SANDY — Over concerns raised by regents about raising college tuition during a robust economy and after healthy legislative appropriations, the Utah State Board of Regents approved on Friday tuition changes for the coming year precisely as proposed by each institution.
The schedule ranges from no increase at Southern Utah University to a 5 percent hike at Dixie State University.
Across the system of higher education, tuition hikes averaged 2.46 percent. Unlike previous years, when the regents set a percentage increase that applied to undergraduate tuition on all campuses, tuition rates were set specific to each institution.
Each institution presented its proposal to the board Thursday, which was preceded by "truth in tuition" hearings conducted on each campus to solicit student input.
“Through this robust process, the board of regents has worked to consider the needs of our growing institutions while keeping tuition as affordable as possible for Utah students,” said chairman Harris Simmons in a statement.
“This approved increase hits the right balance between those priorities. We appreciate the work and collaboration of our institutions, their trustees, and their student leaders in this process. We also thank the Utah Legislature for its support of higher education, which allows us to keep these increases as low as possible.”
At the University of Utah, tuition will go up 3.2 percent, and 3.25 percent at Utah State University, except at its USU Eastern and Blanding campuses, which will increase by 4.2 percent.
During a meeting at the Miller campus of Salt Lake Community College, the board approved a 2 percent increase at Weber State University; 1.7 percent at Utah Valley University; 2 percent at Salt Lake Community College; and 2.5 percent at Snow College.
The institutions presented their proposed tuition increases to the board on Thursday and all were approved as proposed.
But two regents spoke against the increases, which saddle students with growing higher education costs.
"I struggle with asking the students to do more when the economy is doing great," said Sanchaita Datta.
Datta noted that SUU proposed no increase in tuition or fees, which was "amazing."
"How do we get to the same number for all of the institutions?"
Regent Thomas Wright said the board did not have full picture of the institutions' budget as it made difficult decisions affecting revenue.18 comments on this story
Wright said he knows students who struggle to keep up with rising cost of college, which means going into debt, taking longer to complete their degrees and working multiple jobs.
"If this was really our best year for appropriations from the Legislature, we shouldn't have to be asking our students to step up," he said.
Moreover, some of the millions spent on buildings should have been shifted to compensation so that students don't have to shoulder the load, he said.
Wright and Datta cast the lone votes against the tuition adjustments.