Regents nix tuition hike for University of Alaska



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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents gave thumbs down to a proposal to boost tuition by 4 percent.

University President Pat Gamble sought the increase for the 2015-16 academic year, saying the move would raise about $4 million as the system grapples with tight budgets amid higher fixed costs and declining legislative support.

If the regents agreed with Gamble, undergraduate courses would have cost $6 to $8 more per credit.

Seven of the 11 regents voted against the proposal on Friday, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://is.gd/faGCEM).

Some of the regents said more needed to be done to cut costs within the university system, while others expressed concern about the long-term impact of frequent tuition increases.

Regent Kirk Wickersham said he wanted more transparency about how University of Alaska administrators would approach future funding shortfalls before agreeing to the tuition increase. "We don't know what we're buying," he said.

Gamble contends the days when "fat" existed within the University of Alaska system are gone. Campuses were forced to slash their budgets this year — including a $12 million gap at the University of Alaska Fairbanks — and more cuts are expected next year.

"There may be some things that were overlooked, and they're not going to amount to much," Gamble said.

Tuition comprises about 15 percent of revenue at the university, with the rest of the budget roughly split between state funding and federal grant money.

The regents who supported the increase said tuition must keep pace for the university system to maintain its programs moving forward.

"I really believe we have little or no choice unless we want to make this less of a university than it is," Regent Fuller Cowell said.

Gamble made headlines earlier this month when he asked the regents to rescind a $320,000 bonus he was due. Given the budget concerns, Gamble said the timing was not right.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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