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Idaho panel OKs tuition hike

| April 6, 2010 9:00 PM

BOISE (AP) - The state Board of Education agreed Monday to let Idaho's public universities charge students 8.75 to 9.5 percent more in tuition and fees next year.

The board approved the increases, ranging from $402 and $470 per year, after a nine-hour meeting with the presidents of Boise State University, Idaho State University, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College.

While the schools argued that steep declines in state funding for higher education had made tuition and fee increases absolutely necessary to balance their budgets, the board struggled with shifting that burden to students.

"There are two ways to limit access; we can charge so much that kids can't get there," board president Paul Agidius said. "The other limitation is they get there and they don't have the courses they need ... to me that is just as great of an evil."

Idaho will spend roughly $217 million in tax revenue on the schools during the next fiscal year, knocking state general funding below levels established seven years ago.

The total $377.7 million budget for Idaho's four-year public universities will fall 7.8 percent starting July 1 and includes state general funds, tuition and fees, one-time federal stimulus cash and endowment money.

Still, the board has rebuffed double-digit tuition and fee increases for the past four years. During the meeting, a University of Idaho proposal to raise fees 12 percent failed. The board gave the university a smaller increase of 9.5 percent and also voted to trim Idaho State's requested 9.9 percent increase to 9 percent. Boise State's requested 9 percent increase was approved, as was Lewis-Clark's proposal to charge 8.7 percent more next year.

The current full-time, in-state student cost per year at the University of Idaho is about $4,932 and $4,864 per year at Boise State. It's $4,968 at Idaho State and $4,596 at Lewis-Clark.

The costs will rise $402 to $470 per year.

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