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5 percent tuition increase approved for Utah's colleges

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SALT LAKE CITY — College and university students in Utah will pay 5 percent more in tuition next year after the Utah Board of Regents approved the boost on Friday.

For most students, the increase will be the smallest tuition hike in a decade, but it continues a trend of the last several years that has seen students shouldering a higher burden of the costs for education.

"In previous years our funding has been going down and enrollment has been going up. So you have this disconnect between number of students coming into the system and the amount of money coming from the state," said Pamela Silberman, communications director for the Board of Regents.

"We really are trying to keep the tuition increases to a minimum," she said.

The latest increase marks a 44 percent jump in tuition costs at the University of Utah since 2008, according to Utah System of Higher Education data. The remaining schools in the state have seen smaller, but comparable, tuition jumps since the beginning of the recession.

I think that's important to keep in mind, that education in Utah is still a very good deal.

–Pamela Silberman, Board of Regents

"I don’t really like that, but I guess there’s nothing I can really do about it, right?" University of Utah student Soni Kinikini said Friday. "If it’s going to benefit us as students then I guess that’s what they’ve got to do. But if it's just another 300 bucks for them to throw around, then that’s kind of a waste of time and a waste of money for us."

Silberman said Utah compares well within the Rocky Mountain and western region of the U.S.

"I think that's important to keep in mind, that education in Utah is still a very good deal," Silberman said.

She said the state Legislature did give the Board of Regents more money this year, but they still need to fund other mandated costs and faculty and staff raises.

The New Century and Regent scholarship policies and award amounts will also be changed by HB100 in the last legislative session.

In response to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' change in its missionary age, the Legislature also approved a bill that would allow high achieving out-of-state students to receive certain tuition waivers.

"On the face, it's to deal with the declining enrollment that we're seeing short-term as a result of the LDS missionary age change, but I think it's also going to be helpful for our institutions to get a higher profile out of state and maybe raise the caliber of some of our students as well," Silberman said.

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Ben Wood and Mary Richards


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