In-state undergraduate tuition at the University of Minnesota Duluth and other nonmetro U of M campuses is set to rise by 1.5 percent next year.

But it’s still unclear how the budget will affect spending on campus overall, with questions remaining after University of Minnesota system regents on Wednesday approved a smaller tuition hike on the flagship Twin Cities campuses than originally planned.

During a special meeting Wednesday, regents approved an amended version of the system’s $4.2 billion annual operating budget as recommended by outgoing system President Eric Kaler for fiscal year 2020, which starts July 1.

While Kaler’s recommendations called for a 2.5-percent increase in tuition on the university’s Twin Cities campuses, regents passed an amendment Wednesday to scale back the hike to 2 percent.

Under the budget plan, resident (in-state) tuition at UMD for undergraduates is expected to increase by $178 to $12,194, while nonresident undergraduate tuition is expected to increase by $260 to $17,394. Graduate program tuition will increase by anywhere from nothing to 3 percent, depending on the program or school.

Student services and facilities capital improvement fees at UMD are expected to rise by 2.67 percent, from $306.25 per student to $314.44.

In May, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $43.5 million over two years to the U of M — half the university’s original ask — beyond its regular $1.3 billion in base appropriations. As part of the allocation bill, the Legislature asked that tuition hikes be kept to 3 percent or less.

UMD’s tuition has remained relatively stable in recent years, UMD Chancellor Lendley Black noted in a statement Wednesday.

Lendley "Lynn" Black.
Lendley "Lynn" Black.

“It is important that we keep tuition increases to a minimum, and over the last eight years the average tuition increase at UMD has been 0.6 percent,” he said.

The budget plan also calls for increases in funding for faculty and staff compensation as well as to offset budget shortfalls at several schools and campuses, including Duluth — though specific numbers are still a bit murky.

Black pointed to several positive elements of the bill, including the extra compensation support and money for staff, maintenance and operation at UMD’s new Heikkila Chemistry & Advanced Materials Science building.

Specifically for UMD, the budget sets aside $2.3 million in tuition and reallocated funds as well as $2.5 million in new operations and maintenance funds.

The added money is slated to provide a 2.25-percent increase to the university’s general salary pool, from which merit-based raises are paid. It also will help cover UMD’s “cost pool” — money that UMD pays to the U of M system to share the larger system’s resources.

Of the new operations and maintenance money, $700,000 will address cost increases not related to compensation, such as for technology, utilities and various support services, for example.

That $700,000 also will help reduce UMD’s budget shortfall.

In a January statement on his university blog, Black said the university expected to finish the current fiscal year with a $3.9 million deficit, which the U of M system refers to as a “structural imbalance.”

However, the U of M system estimates a shortfall of $4 million even with the added money in the new budget.

“At this time, it seems UMD’s budget structural imbalance will increase slightly next fiscal year,” Black said in a statement Wednesday.

However, Black noted that the numbers aren’t certain until UMD receives an official budget allocation letter from the U of M system, which is expected toward the end of June.

“After we receive our allocation letter, we will share the details with the UMD community,” Black said.