Nebraska regents to consider tuition increase as part of proposed budget

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter released a recommended 2023-24 budget that includes a minimal tuition increase to help close its budget shortfall.
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 12:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2023 at 1:14 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - University of Nebraska President Ted Carter released a recommended 2023-24 budget that includes a minimal tuition increase to help close its budget shortfall.

The proposed budget will be considered by the Board of Regents at their meeting on June 22 and highlights a minimal tuition increase, the first since 2020-21. The increase amounts to less than $300 more over the academic year for most Nebraska undergraduates who pay full price to attend.

With the tuition increase, the NU System faces an estimated $58 million budget shortfall by the end of the 2024-25 year. NU said the amount will only increase in future years as inflation continues to put pressure on operating and payroll costs and new revenue is also expected to be muted.

According to the NU System, the estimated $58 million budget shortfall represents only what it would take to maintain the university’s current status quo. It assumes no new investments in strategic opportunities like faculty salaries, high-priority academic programs, student services like mental health, or others.

At a special Board meeting held last month to review and discuss the university’s fiscal planning, regents rejected an approach that the university has historically taken to address budget shortfalls, such as across-the-board cuts. Regents noted that an approach as such could weaken the entire institution at a time when the university needs to become more competitive in areas like research, enrollment and faculty pay.

During the meeting, regents directed Carter to build a plan. Carter will present his plan at the June 22 meeting and said he anticipates announcing immediate steps to preserve cash in the short term, as well as a framework for addressing the longer-term challenges.

The proposed 2023-24 budget includes:

  • The tuition increase that averages 3.5 percent for all students. Nebraska undergraduates taking a full course load at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln would pay $270 more next year, students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha would pay $240 more, and students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney would pay $210 more. Students who qualify for free tuition under the Nebraska Promise program would see no impact from the increase.
  • A 3 percent increase in the salary pool for non-unionized faculty and staff. Salary increases are to be awarded based on merit.
  • An additional $2 million in state funding for the Nebraska Career Scholarships program, which provide scholarships to Nebraska students in fields like healthcare, IT and engineering that are key to the state’s workforce growth.
  • A $27 million shortfall in 2023-24, the result of inflationary pressures and lower-than-projected enrollment. NU anticipates an additional $30 million challenge in 2024-25, bringing the total shortfall to almost $58 million by the end of the biennium. Without the tuition increase, the shortfall would be close to $70 million.

Additionally, at their June 22 meeting, regents will consider the 2023-24 operating budget for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. Under the proposed tuition increase, NCTA students would pay $5 more per credit hour next year.