UA Board of Regents approves tuition increase, sets aside $1.5 million for student financial aid

by Michelle Saport  |   

The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to increase the amount undergraduate students pay for college tuition by 5 percent beginning in fall semester 2020, but directed the administration to invest $1.5 million of tuition revenue to financial aid for students at each university. The UA tuition rate remains well below the tuition rates at most universities in the west.

Graduate student and non-resident tuition was not increased.

"Our goal is to ensure that we have a sound university and have considered how the tuition increase will affect our students and that goal,” said Chair Sheri Buretta. “We care deeply about our students and want to make sure those in need have access to adequate financial aid.”

UA President Jim Johnsen told regents that a 5 percent increase in tuition could generate as much as $7 million in additional revenue but noted that the amount is not guaranteed because it assumes current enrollment holds next year.

The board was scheduled to vote on the tuition increase at its November 2019 meeting, but delayed the decision so that each university leadership team could talk with and collect input from students.

In other business, regents heard from the university chancellors on their progress to meet current fiscal year 2020 reductions and plans for additional budget reductions in fiscal year 2021. They also heard from each university on strategies and initiatives to increase enrollment and contribute to increased student success at Alaska’s universities.

The board unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the late Dr. Alan Boraas, longest serving professor at Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) and renowned anthropologist, for his accomplishments and service to the university. Dr. Boraas passed away Nov. 4. Regents discussed his many contributions to Alaska, to KPC and to the people of the Kenai Peninsula.

The January meeting, typically a one-day strategic planning session, was expanded to include an afternoon budget work session on Thursday for the regents to go into more detail about the budget, goals and measures, strategic investments, financial history, expenditures and revenues. On Thursday the Board of Regents' Governance Committee began its first stage of an audit of Regents' Policy for clarity of authority, roles, and responsibilities. The committee, with input from the university chancellors, governance representatives and President Johnsen, discussed the responsibilities of System boards, presidents and executives of the universities within the System.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Alaska Legislature. Members serve an 8-year term, with the exception of the student regent who is nominated from his/her campus and serves a 2-year term. The Board was established in the Alaska Constitution and is responsible for University of Alaska policy and management through the university president.

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