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UH planning to raise tuition


The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is entertaining the idea of a tuition hike by fall 2012, the first such action since 2005.

The regents aim to attach numbers to the increase by this spring.

"The current tuition schedule ends in spring 2012. We hope to put a new schedule in place this year, spring 2011, in order to give students and families one year notice," said Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president for academic planning and policy. "We want tuition predictable."

Johnsrud made an informational presentation to the regents during a meeting in Maui last week, presenting three options for a tuition hike:

» Moving it up in tune with national and regional averages.
» An across-the-board increase for residents.
» Differentiated increases based on each campus.

University officials hope to have a proposed increase by January. The proposal will go through public meetings and revision during the spring, and is expected to be approved by the regents as late as June next year.

Moving along with national averages yielded the highest possible tuition hikes, according to Johnsrud’s presentation.


University of Hawaii’s regents are considering substantial tuition increases:
» What they want: To have a new tuition schedule set a year before it takes effect.
» What’s next: The regents hope to have a tuition increase outlined by January. The plan will go through public meetings and could be approved as late as June.
» What is tuition now: Tuition and fees for a resident undergraduate at UH-Manoa now average $7,168 a year.

Total tuition and fees for a resident undergraduate at UH-Manoa average about $7,168 a year. If Manoa followed national average trends, that could increase to as much as $13,332 by the 2016 fall semester.

UH-West Oahu would follow averages set by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Tuition would go to $7,930 a year from $4,186 by 2016.

At UH-Hilo, it would go to $8,224 from $4,888. And at the community colleges, it would go to $4,331 from an average of $2,441.

If the university were to have differentiated increases, Manoa students might see a 3.5 percent increase in 2012, followed by 7 percent increases every year through 2016. Tuition would rise to about $12,204 a year under that plan.

Johnsrud said the benefits would include increased financial aid, more course offerings, smaller classes, hiring and retention of faculty, classroom improvements and increased security.

"Keeping higher education affordable for Hawaii residents by balancing tuition and financial aid is the primary goal," Johnsrud said. This school year, the university system was awarded $26.3 million in financial aid.

In May 2005, the regents approved the current schedule. By next year, the undergraduate tuition would be more than double the 2005 semester costs.

UH officials at the time said that without the current tuition schedule, the Manoa campus would have seen an accelerated loss of faculty, a moratorium on hiring for up to five years and even building closures due to safety concerns.

Senior Todd Cosgrove, a history major, said he still remembers the hit his wallet took when tuition increased in 2005.

"Man, that was painful," said Cosgrove, who has been working while attending the Manoa campus since 2001. "It’s already pretty high now."

James Larson, who is president of the Manoa campus’ History Honors Society, said he has been supportive of fee increases in the past. He liked the idea of increased fees so students could get access to a bus pass to the campus, as well as access to athletic events.

But he’s wary of any increase that won’t see direct results in the classroom. The senior said he is likely to attend graduate school at the Manoa campus.

"The president makes half a million dollars a year, but my teachers can’t make handouts unless they pay for the copies out of their own pockets," Larson said. "With no demonstrable improvement to the school, I wouldn’t support it."

He said he believes administrators should be taking larger pay cuts until the school is able to better balance its budget.

"That’s why they were hired, to lower costs," Larson said. "I want to see improvements, rather than have an increase for them just simply passing the buck along."

Correction: Undergraduate tuition at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is about $7,168 per school year. It is $4,186 a year at UH West Oahu and $4,888 at UH Hilo. An earlier version of this story and a story on page A1 of Thursday’s paper incorrectly said the tuition was per semester.

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