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UH officials told to plan for flat tuition

July 10, 2014 - 11:55pm

HONOLULU — University of Hawaii administrators will make two years of operating-budget plans without the promise of an increase in tuition.

UH regents had previously approved 7 percent annual increases as part of a five-year tuition schedule to raise tuition by more than 30 percent. However, regents want to review tuition increases as they balance increasing costs and less state support with a commitment to affordability and accessibility, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The outcome could mean scaled-back increases or a tuition freeze.

The state’s upcoming biennium budget process will cover the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

Full-time undergraduate resident tuition at the flagship campus, UH-Manoa, this fall will increase 7.6 percent to $9,840 a year.

Tuition had been scheduled to increase about 7.5 percent in the next two fiscal years.

“The board will have to act to set the tuition rate for next year and the year after — the two years of the biennium — which right now is set at the 7 percent increase,” said John Morton, UH vice president for community colleges, on Wednesday at a regents’ Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

“I don’t think any of us, frankly, feel it’s going to be 7 percent. Whether it’s zero, whether it’s 1 (percent) or it’s 2 (percent) or it’s 3 (percent), it has to be set,” Morton said.

Regents approved tuition increases in 2011 as they faced cuts in state funding. Preparing budgets as if tuition is flat will help determine whether core operations can be covered without increases.

The university could then evaluate whether to seek more money for spending on faculty and staff retention, student support, maintenance or new programs, Morton said.