Calling it one of the toughest issues they’ve taken on in their service as regents, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents voted this week to approve a new five-year tuition schedule. The new schedule takes effect in fall 2012 and includes modest increases in each of the five years.
“We are well aware of the economic struggle that many Hawaiʻi families are experiencing,” said Board of Regents Chair Eric Martinson. “We made this decision with the best interests of Hawaiʻi’s citizens and our only public higher education institution in mind, and with the certainty that accompanying increased financial aid and outreach counseling will continue to make a college degree accessible to all who desire it.”
The university has sustained more than $86 million in cuts to its core operating budget over the last two years. During this same period, enrollment has increased to a record high of 60,000 students, an increase of 14,000 students from a decade ago.
“The university has made every effort to preserve services that directly impact students and has made significant adjustments in its operations to address these budget cuts, including salary reductions, hiring freezes, travel restrictions, energy conservation and other measures,” said UH President M.R.C. Greenwood. “In the meantime we have made extraordinary efforts to, in the face of declining public dollars, pursue and win grants and extramural funding that have gone directly into programs and opportunities to benefit our students.”
The original proposal presented to the board in August was subsequently screened before an estimated 390 people who attended 11 public meetings, a Student Caucus briefing and an administrative briefing in September and October. Based on the testimony received, the university administration made some adjustments to its final recommendation to the regents.
In addition, the administration is considering several initiatives to address student and community concerns. These include:
- Recommending that summer tuition for undergraduates be frozen at summer 2011 rates for UH Hilo, UH West Oʻahu and the UH community colleges to increase student access and timely completion.
- Developing a proposal to designate a share of financial assistance, as determined by campus chancellors, to on-campus work opportunities to support “gap-group” students—those who cannot afford to pay the full cost of their education yet do not qualify for need- or merit-based financial aid.
- Consideration by the UH Community Colleges to set aside an additional one percent of tuition revenue to provide additional financial support to students. Currently, the community colleges allocate 11 percent of their total tuition revenues to financial assistance.
“We will be working hard to clearly show every entering student a pathway to graduation in four years or less, if they want to work harder and take summer classes,” Greenwood said. “We are always mindful of the fact that they and their parents are our valued customers, and our obligation is to deliver the best quality university education for the most affordable price possible.”
Assuming moderate enrollment growth, the tuition increases are expected to generate roughly $15 million of additional revenues in the first year and $25 million in the final year of the tuition schedule.
The additional revenues from the tuition increases will be used to meet critical systemwide and campus–specific needs, including providing for financial assistance for students, hiring and retaining faculty, maintaining course availability, increasing campus security, supporting debt service and enhancing academic and student support services.
The revenues will also be used to improve and upgrade university business systems and to make classroom and facility improvements. The university has at least a $350 million maintenance and repair backlog that will continue to grow annually if not addressed.
For additional information, including the complete tuition schedule, visit http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/app/tuition.