LINCOLN — Good news for University of Nebraska students and their parents.
University officials unveiled a budget plan Friday that carries out a promise to freeze tuition for Nebraska students next year.
The proposal, which will go before the Board of Regents for approval on June 7, includes no in-state tuition increase.
It calls for a 3 percent hike in tuition rates for out-of-state students, the smallest increase since 1997.
NU President J.B. Milliken expressed appreciation for the funding boost.
“Their investment in the University of Nebraska puts us in a position not only to support important priorities, but also to freeze tuition for Nebraskans for two years — a step we know will be welcomed by thousands of students and families in the state,” he said.
The tuition freeze is expected to save the average undergraduate student about $1,000 over the two years, according to university officials. It applies to all Nebraska students, including undergraduate, graduate, professional and online.
Tuition for an undergraduate, resident student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln would remain at the current $216 per credit hour. Out-of-state undergraduates would see their tuition increase to $660.25, up from the current $641 per credit hour.
Rates will continue to vary by campus, by college and by a student's status as an undergraduate or graduate.
Tuition increases have been an annual part of life for at least two decades at the university. At UNL and the NU Medical Center, 1987 was the last year that tuition was not increased.
Milliken noted that even without the freeze, tuition and fees at each of the university's four campuses have been below the average costs of peer institutions.
UNL's undergraduate tuition and fees this year ranked the lowest among the public universities in the Big 10 Conference. They rank 10th among the campus' 11 designated peer universities.
Milliken told state lawmakers that the university can attract students by making tuition a good value. Students who attend the university or other college in the state are more likely to stay in Nebraska after graduation.
Early this year, university and state college officials made a commitment to hold the line on in-state tuition for two years if the state would renew its investment in higher education.
They said the state had provided essentially flat funding for operations for five years.
Both Heineman and state lawmakers got on board with the idea, though the Legislature approved a smaller budget increase than the governor had proposed.
The university budget plan provides for a 3 percent increase in the salary pool for most faculty and staff. The funds will be distributed on the basis of merit and performance.
Faculty at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska at Kearney, who are unionized, will receive 2 percent increases based on collective bargaining agreements.
The plan also adds $2.5 million to the amount set aside next year for Programs of Excellence. The university has been putting $20 million a year into high-priority academic areas that are chosen competitively.
Some that received funding in past years include early childhood education, water, public health and information science and technology.
Even with the increase in state support, Milliken said the university will have to do $2 million worth of cost-cutting to balance its general operating budget, also called the state-aided budget.
That would come out of a general operating budget of $828 million for 2013-14. The proposal would amount to an increase of 3.2 percent.
The budget total, including federal funds, patient revenues, housing funds and other restricted funds, would be $2.35 billion.
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