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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Idaho universities tone down their tuition hike requests for next year

Idaho's state universities overall are looking at lower tuition increases next year than they've imposed in recent years, AP reporter Jessie Bonner reports; the universities will make their pitch to the State Board of Education next week. Click below to read Bonner's full report.

ISU, UI to seek smaller tuition increases
By JESSIE L. BONNER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Officials at Idaho State University in Pocatello are proposing their lowest tuition increase in more than a decade, while the University of Idaho in Moscow also plans to seek a smaller hike compared with previous years.

Idaho State University officials confirmed they will recommend a 4.73 percent tuition hike at a state Board of Education meeting next week.

Since 2002, the university's tuition hikes have ranged from a low of 4.75 percent in 2006, to a high of 9 percent in 2010. If approved, the proposal for the 2012-13 school year would represent the smallest tuition jump in 15 years, according to the university's vice president for finance and administration, James Fletcher.

The costs would increase $274 per year for full-time undergraduate students, under the proposal.

The University of Idaho will propose charging full-time, undergraduate students 6.1 percent more in tuition next year. The plan, if approved, would represent the university's smallest tuition jump since 2008, when the board approved a 5 percent increase.

Under that plan, full-time undergraduate students would be charged $356 more per year.

Idaho's public universities have leaned further on student tuition and fees in the economic downturn, citing losses in state support.

The lower tuition increases are being proposed after lawmakers voted in the 2012 session to boost state support for higher education. A budget for next year gives Idaho's public universities $18.1 million more in state general funds compared with the current fiscal year.

The increased higher education budget was "definitely a factor" in Idaho State's lowered tuition request, spokesman Mark Levine told The Associated Press on Thursday.

At the University of Idaho, the proposed tuition increase for next year will help fund a 2 percent salary increase for employees.

School president Duane Nellis told lawmakers that boosting compensation was his highest priority. The Moscow campus was starting to lose key faculty members as salaries remained stagnant over the past four years, he said.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a 2 percent, across-the-board raise for state workers meeting performance standards. That figure was built into state budgets during the 2012 session, which ended March 29.

Lawmakers gave universities about 60 percent of the money necessary to fund the salary increases, University of Idaho spokeswoman Ysabel Bilbao said.

"They only appropriated a portion of the (change in compensation), leaving the rest to the actual institutions to fund," she said.

Boise State University, which requested the lowest tuition increase at 5 percent last year, is seeking a 5.7 percent tuition increase for next year. The university started with a proposed 7.5 percent tuition increase, a figure that was later lowered, spokesman Frank Zang said.

Students would pay $318 more per year in tuition next year with a 5.7 percent increase.

"We just felt that, recognizing the impact on students, we needed to keep it as low as possible," Zang said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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