LINCOLN — Like the cost of concert tickets, eating out and getting stitches in the emergency room, the price of going to a University of Nebraska institution will edge upward in 2019-20.
The NU Board of Regents on Friday approved resident undergraduate tuition increases generally ranging from 2.5% to 3%. Some student fees also will rise. At a previous meeting, the regents approved some room and board increases for 2019-20.
“Doesn’t make things any easier, that’s for sure,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student Anthony Muhle of Schuyler, Nebraska. Muhle worked in the heat Friday afternoon as a graduate assistant assessing disease resistance in switchgrass.
Here are three examples of resident undergraduate tuition and other costs:
- University of Nebraska at Omaha tuition will go up from $223.25 per credit hour to $229, a difference of $172.50 for 30 credit hours. Some student fees will rise, as will the cost of food. And a four-bedroom Scott Court apartment paid in a nine-month lump sum will cost $6,600, up from $6,500. The total increase, then, will be roughly $295.
- At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, tuition will rise from $245 to $252, an increase of $210 for 30 credit hours. A double room with a midlevel meal plan will go up from $10,380 to $10,780. Fee increases will be small. Thus, one could face about a $610 increase in costs, but UNL gives up to a $500 discount for returning the following year to the residence hall.
- At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, tuition will rise to $203 per credit hour, or $6,090 for 30 credit hours, up from $5,940. Student fees will go up about $40 a year for a full-time student. A double room and midlevel meal plan will go up about $195, so the total increase will be roughly $385.
Precisely how much more it will cost a student depends on the institution, program, housing and meal plan, entertainment expenses, trips home and other things. But it can safely be said that in most instances, resident undergraduates in the NU system will pay $240 more in the coming school year, and in many cases well above that.
UNL Student Regent Emily Johnson of Lincoln said during the meeting that a tuition increase was necessary and that UNL tuition is fairly modest. Nevertheless, she asked the regents to “take a moment to empathize with students” who work minimum wage jobs.
For professionals such as lawyers, the $210 increase for 30 credit hours at UNL may seem minimal, Johnson said. But for many working students, she said, $210 is about three days on the job.
The NU system expressed gratitude to Nebraska leaders for state funding increases of 3% in 2019-20 and 3.7% the following year. This enabled the regents to lift resident undergraduate tuition by a comparatively low 2.75% on average, NU President Hank Bounds said, and about 2.75% in 2020-21.
The regents also approved an operating budget of about $994.5 million, up from $973.2 million, including the two-year Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. NU has four-year and graduate institutions in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney.
Bounds called it “a lean budget” that keeps up with inflation but doesn’t allow for major new programs to assist Nebraska’s workforce. Bounds said he was sensitive to tuition increases because he “paid every penny for my own education.” Bounds has resigned, effective mid-August. He will teach graduate students at the University of South Alabama.
Robert Van Valkenburg, 83, of Lincoln told the regents that ever-rising tuition will cause access to an NU education to decline and student loans to go up.
But Regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln said the board has a duty to keep tuition affordable but to generate enough revenue to keep NU’s educational quality high.
Salaries at UNO and UNK will go up 2% in 2019-20. UNL and the University of Nebraska Medical Center will get salary allocations that would provide about 2.4% raises, although how they are distributed will vary. Bounds said UNL and UNMC are way behind their comparison universities in faculty salaries.
Nonresident tuition costs considerably more, as do master’s programs and doctoral programs. Some disciplines, too, require students to pay more to cover costs. Those subjects include architecture, business and engineering at UNL and information science and business at UNO.