Education

University of Alaska considers tuition hikes for the next 2 years

The University of Alaska is considering increasing tuition by 5 percent next academic year and by another 5 percent the year after that.

UA President Jim Johnsen introduced the proposed tuition increases at Thursday's daylong UA Board of Regents meeting in Juneau. The regents will likely vote on the proposal during their November meeting.

"As a result of declining state investment in the university, UA must continue to reduce costs and increase revenues, including tuition, if UA is to maintain and continuously enhance its high quality in teaching, service and research," said a meeting document.

The increases would affect students across the sprawling university system, including those at the universities in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. They would apply to tuition rates for upper- and lower-division classes as well as graduate classes, according to the proposal.

The only outlier: Students taking lower-division courses at UA's Kodiak College and Prince William Sound College in Valdez would face greater tuition increases — 10 percent in 2018-19 and 9.5 percent in 2019-20. The increases would raise tuition rates so they equal those at other campuses, Johnsen said.

Johnsen said he planned to ask students for feedback on the proposed tuition increases before a regent vote.

Colby Freel, a University of Alaska Fairbanks student and chair of the Coalition of Student Leaders, told regents Thursday that students he spoke with were "acutely aware of the financial burden the university is under."

"We want a quality education," he said. "We understand it's very affordable here and we're willing to pay a little more."

Under the proposal, an in-state University of Alaska Anchorage student paying $732 for a three-credit upper-division class this year would pay $807 for the class in 2019-20. An in-state student taking 18 credits of lower-division classes in fall 2019 would pay $4,014, according to the proposal.

The proposal follows years of tuition increases at UA. Tuition rose by 5 percent this academic year. The year before that, tuition also increased by 5 percent, plus additional increases for business and engineering students.

While UA considers raising tuition to help cover costs, it is also faced with declining enrollment. According to preliminary UA data, 24,920 students were enrolled at universities across the system Monday, down 4.9 percent from last year.

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