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Published June 05, 2013, 12:48 PM

University of Minnesota to freeze tuition for resident undergrads

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In-state undergraduates will enjoy a tuition freeze at the University of Minnesota for the first time in decades under the school's proposed operating budget.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In-state undergraduates will enjoy a tuition freeze at the University of Minnesota for the first time in decades under the school's proposed operating budget.

President Eric Kaler has proposed holding tuition for Twin Cities campus students to $12,060 next year. But out-of-state undergraduates will see tuition increases amounting to $1,000 a year at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses. And some fees will go up for all students.

The freeze fulfills a pledge Kaler made to legislators in return for higher state financial support, the Star Tribune reported Wednesday. It also comes at a time when Minnesota undergraduates are carrying some of the heaviest student loan burdens in the country. A recent state report found that two-thirds of the 2010 graduates of the University of Minnesota system took out loans, with an average student debt load of $26,727.

"All told, this budget is a big win for students," said Richard Pfutzenreuter, the university's chief financial officer.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the $3.4 billion operating budget June 14.

The budget spends about $61 million more than in fiscal year 2013, a 1.9 percent increase. It bankrolls research and a 2.5 percent compensation increase for faculty and staff. It also includes $40.3 million in new investments, including upgrading classrooms, hiring new professors for the Carlson School of Management and expanding national recruiting for high-achieving students.

It also outlines $10 million of the $15 million in administrative cuts requested by the Legislature. They include cutting or consolidating a number of positions with titles that include directors and assistant deans. Administrators will find the other $5 million in coming months, Pfutzenreuter said during a media briefing Tuesday.

"I believe we will exceed $15 million," he said.

Room and board on the Twin Cities campus will climb 3.9 percent, to $8,312, partly to pay for a new residence hall.

Tuition will rise for many graduate students by 3 percent. First-year, resident law students will shoulder one of the biggest increases — 9 percent — bringing their annual tuition to $38,040, not including fees.

In addition to funding the tuition freeze, the Legislature also increased state grants for undergraduates. About 11,000 students at the university get those need-based grants, and their average award will rise $718 next year under the budget plan. The university also is adding more than $2 million for merit-based financial aid, which is awarded without regard to a family's income.

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