September 22, 2006

Regents approve tuition increase; will ask state to support need-based aid

For Immediate Release
Sept. 22, 2006, Friday

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a 7 percent tuition increase for the 2007-2008 school year on Friday, after two days of discussing the issue and hearing from numerous students.

Board members agreed with students testifying that the best way to expand need-based financial aid in Alaska is to request it from the state. UA President Mark Hamilton floated the idea of an additional increase above the 7 percent to support a need-based program, but he agreed asking the state for the money is the best approach.

Regents voted for the 7 percent increase on an 8-2 vote, with Regents Bob Martin of Juneau and Carl Marrs of Anchorage voting no.

Mary K. Hughes of Anchorage, chair of the board, said the university is counting on the students' help to lobby for more need-based aid from the state's next governor and the Alaska Legislature.

"We all clearly understand that Alaska students have a very real need for a financial aid program based on income levels," Hughes said. "The students' offer to help us garner that support in Juneau is very much appreciated."

Board members and Hamilton discussed a wide range of options for holding the line on future tuition, including a lock-in rate, but took no action.

Even with the 7 percent increase, the UA system is about in the middle of similar, four-year public universities in the west.

The tuition increase pushes the rate from $120 to $128 per credit for lower division courses;  $135 to $144 per credit for upper division courses, and $268 to $287 per credit for graduate courses. Exactly how much a student pays depends on credit load and type. For an average load with a split of upper division and lower division courses a student could expect to pay about $150-$200 more in tuition per year. Credit hour rates for Kodiak College and Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez are slightly less, but they also will see a 7 percent increase beginning in fall 2007.

Board members also approved several new programs, including a bachelor's degree in international studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage, to be reviewed in five years; undergraduate technology career specialty certificates in welding, construction and industrial safety at Kodiak College;  and the continuation of several programs, including a bachelor's in aviation technology, associate of applied science in technology, bachelor's in health sciences, and master's in global supply chain management, all at UAA; and a master's in rural development at UAF.

Regents also heard from gubernatorial candidates Andrew Halcro, Tony Knowles and Sarah Palin over the two-day meeting.  The informal exchanges allowed regents to ask the candidates their positions on higher education issues and to let the candidates know some of the board's concerns for the university system, including need-based financial aid, retirement cost increases in the state-run PERS and TRS programs, the state's investment in university research, and other issues.

Board members also attended a dedication ceremony for UAA's new Integrated Sciences building, slated to open by fall 2009.

In other business, Hamilton also accepted an award on behalf of the university system from Robert Conlon of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. The award, presented by the Coalition of Alaskans Supporting Higher Education, lauds the university for its leadership and assistance in the Alaska College Goal Sunday program.

Regents also had an early look at the proposed budget for the 2008 fiscal year, but aren't scheduled to debate and vote on it until November.

In addition, regents took the following action regarding UA facilities:
  • Formal project approval for a $5.7 million upgrade to the Arctic Health Research Building at UAF;
  • Total project cost increase for an addition to  Prince William Sound Community College, at $4.7 million;
  • and formal project approval of a $4 million renovation to the Tanana Valley Campus building in downtown Fairbanks.


For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102.