NU Board of Regents approves tuition increase as part of new budget

June 20, 2024, 2 p.m. ·

June 2024 Board of Regents
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents discusses the university's 2024-25 budget. (Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

Listen To This Story

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved the budget for the upcoming year and approved Dr. Jeffrey Gold’s contract as university president on Thursday.

The budget includes $11.5 million in spending cuts, a tuition increase at all four campuses and additional investment into the new Presidential Scholars Program.

Five regents voted in favor of the budget, while regents Kathy Wilmot and Robert Schafer voted against it. The three student regents present also voted in favor of the budget.

University of Nebraska Administration Building
The outside of Varner Hall, where the Board of Regents meet. (Photo by Jolie Peal/Nebraska Public Media News)

Tuition will be at least $100 more per semester across the four campuses.

Schafer said he couldn’t approve a budget that raised tuition while funding diversity and inclusion programs.

“I'm having a hard time supporting a budget that's increasing tuition that supports DEI, at a time when we're cutting programs, cutting jobs and positions and services to our students,” Schafer said.

Wilmot said families are already paying taxes, which help fund the university.

“Then, when we ask those students from those families to chip in again, I feel like that's somewhat of a double hit,” Wilmot said.

Regent Jim Scheer disagreed with Wilmot. He said there are plenty of taxpayers who don’t attend the university but help fund it.

“Joe Blow doesn't receive the direct benefit other than having a higher educated population,” Scheer said. “He maybe has a better doctor to go visit, he maybe has a better accountant, he maybe has a better dentist, or attorney. That's what we're doing. We're producing the better people for the population, the state of Nebraska. Three-and-a-half percent, I don't think is an unreasonable request.”

Several regents voting for the budget pointed out that even with a 3.5% tuition increase, NU will still have the second lowest tuition in the Big 10. Purdue University, which hasn’t had a tuition increase since 2012, charges students less than Nebraska.

The three student regents who were present all said the tuition increase is an investment their peers are willing to make for improved educational opportunities. Student regent Pranita Devaraju, who represents the medical center campus, said the students at UNMC choose to pursue multiple degrees.

“Tuition increases are frustrating for students. For UNMC students, this is even our second time paying tuition, so it is a bit of a sore spot,” Devaraju said. “However, we would not be pursuing another degree, if we didn’t care more about quality education, and this budget maintains that for us.”

The budget also calls for $11.5 million in cuts. It also invests $1.5 million into the new President’s Scholarship program that gives a full-ride award plus a $5,000 stipend to students with a perfect score on the ACT. There will also be a $15 million investment into the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Rural Health Education Complex.

President-elect Dr. Jeffrey Gold will officially start as NU president on July 1 with a board-approved salary of $1,062,573.

He is contracted to serve for five years to start, and is eligible for an additional 15% in performance-based merit pay.

“I’m thrilled that we have someone of Jeff Gold’s caliber and status and stature to step into the president’s role and to lead us through these times at the university in which we’re facing budget constraints, we’re facing pressures to try to get back into the AAU, looking at building a new hospital and stadium renovations,” Schafer said.

Football fans will hopefully see better cell connection in Memorial Stadium in the coming years after the board approved a contract with Verizon for the carrier to build a neutral host Distributed Antenna System, DAS, that will provide coverage for 95% of the stadium. Other cell carriers will be able to contract with Verizon to use the system.

Nebraska Athletics will pay nothing for the neutral system. Verizon and any other carriers that choose to use the DAS will pay rent to athletics.

“This will take some time,” Interim President Chris Kabourek said. “I don’t believe we’ll probably see significant improvement for this football season. But in time, when you go to the stadium or to the game, the ultimate vision is you’re going to have much better Wi-Fi access than you have today.”

The board approved two new degrees. At UNL, students can obtain a Bachelor's in Business Analytics in the College of Business. The degree is made of classes already offered at the university, so there will be no additional expenses.

UNMC will offer a new Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. The first two years of the degree can be completed at any of the campuses or at Nebraska community or state colleges. The last two years will be completed at UNMC in either Omaha or Kearney.