Legislator proposes UH tuition freeze


HONOLULU — A state lawmaker plans to introduce a proposal to freeze tuition at the University of Hawaii.

Rep. John Mizuno, D-Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley, and several UH students on Monday passed out copies of the proposed bill to students at the Manoa campus.

The measure, to be introduced at the legislative session next year, calls for a system-wide tuition freeze for the 2014-2015 academic year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Residents who are full-time undergraduate students at UH-Manoa currently pay $4,572 for one semester. The cost for non-residents is $13,356.

A five-year schedule calls for a 7.5 percent increase each year for the next three academic years.

“These tuition increases are not fair,” Mizuno said. “It’s going to hurt our students.”

A moratorium on increases will allow more students to enroll, he said. Tuition hikes, Mizuno said, place a burden on students.

Linda Johnsrud, UH provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, said tuition increases are needed to provide quality programs, classroom improvements, financial aid, operating expenses and enhanced technology.

“I think that our tuition is affordable,” she said.

The administration, she said, will analyze effects of the increases midway through the tuition schedule.

NerdScholar, a website that provides information for finding ways to pay for college, concluded in a study that average student debt in Hawaii is the second-lowest in the nation. The state also has the lowest percentage of students graduating with debt, at 38 percent, according to the website.

UH-Manoa freshman Maricar Daoang said the increase is reasonable.

“I don’t have anything against the tuition,” Daoang said.

She considered attending San Diego State University but decided against it because the tuition plus food and housing for a nonresident undergraduate was much higher, she said.