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UH regents approve tuition increases for next five years

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The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted 9-3 today to approve a proposal that will increase tuition on all campuses through the next five years.

About 10 people signed up to testify on the measure, most against the increase.

“All we ask is that you keep students at the forefront of your minds and keep it  (tuition) affordable for us,” said Martin Trevino, vice chairman of the UH student caucus. Trevino said the student caucus passed a motion to support substantiality efforts to bring tuition down by saving on utility costs.

“The tuition hikes are unreasonable and unjustified,” said student Brandi Hyden.  She said administrators haven’t fully explained how the university will use the increased tuition revenue.

In a memo to the regents, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood called the increases “modest,” and said they are needed to make up for budget cuts.

“Given the fiscal realities of the state, the university must rely on tuition revenues more than it has in the past,” Greenwood said.

Under the proposal, annual tuition at UH-Manoa will rise by 35 percent over the next five years for a resident undergraduate student — to $11,376 a year in 2016, from the current $8,400 a year. Tuition next year will rise by $264, to $8,664.

Resident tuition at UH-West Oahu will go up 49 percent over five years, to $7,656 in 2016-2017, from $5,136 this year, equal to what UH-Hilo students would pay.

Immediately after the vote, regents chairman Eric Martinson told the gathering, “This is probably the hardest decision …” when student Zuri Aki began clapping in a slow cadence, spoke in Hawaiian and said in English, “Shame on you guys for doing this.” Aki then thanked the three regents who voted against the increase.

UH administrators unveiled the plan in August and solicited comments in a series of meetings over the last month.

Based on comments from the public meetings, UH administrators made a few changes to the tuition proposal. Tuition for the UH law school will increase by an additional 1 percent under the new proposal. The administration says UH law school tuition is “substantially lower” than the projected national average, but balanced the increase with the need to keep rates affordable. Law school tuition would go up by a total of $1,512 a year by 2016.

The university is also looking at providing more on-campus jobs for students and increasing financial aid at community colleges with the some of the additional tuition revenue.

The regents met this morning at the Hawaii Carpenters Union Training Center at 2040 Lauwiliwili St. in Kapolei.

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