Gamble Proposes 2 Percent University of Alaska Tuition Hike
FAIRBANKS — University of Alaska President Pat Gamble is proposing a 2 percent tuition increase for the 2013-14 school year, a hike that would raise yearly undergraduate tuition costs to nearly $5,600 a year.
Gamble proposed the tuition plan Thursday for students at the 16 UA campuses. It will go before the UA Board of Regents for consideration in September.
If approved, the tuition hike would be the lowest increase in more than a decade. Regents approved a 7 percent increase for undergraduates for the upcoming 2012-13 school year, along with a 3 percent increase for graduate students.
For a student taking a typical 15-credit course load each semester, divided equally between upper- and lower-division classes, Gamble’s proposal would mean a yearly $5,580 tuition bill in 2013-14. A graduate student taking nine credits a semester would pay $7,038.
Tuition currently makes up about 12 percent of the total UA budget, and Gamble warned that adjustments will need to be made elsewhere to offset a lower-than-normal tuition hike.
“There is no free lunch,” Gamble said in a statement. “When we squeeze this balloon, it expands the dollar shortfall to be made up elsewhere in our system.”
UA Associate Vice President Saichi Oba said the system’s overall expenses are climbing at an annual rate of 3 percent to 5 percent a year, mostly a result of inflation, personnel costs and higher energy costs. He said UA will work to find additional money by controlling costs, and that no plan to ask for additional funds from the Legislature has been discussed.
Oba said Gamble made a point of limiting tuition costs in his proposal after a decade of “fairly aggressive” increases. Tuition rates have roughly doubled at UA in the past decade.
“This is something he’s always had his eye on, in terms of how we can reduce an increase to students,” he said.
Even after a decade of steady increases, UA remains competitive with its counterparts both regionally and nationally, Oba said.
The UA system is currently ranked 10th among 15 Western states among tuition costs at four-year public universities, with Alaska students paying about $1,500 less than the average yearly bill for the region. The national average is higher, at $8,200 per year in tuition.
Contact Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Jeff Richardson at 907-459-7518.