KAHULUI - A proposal for tuition hikes throughout the University of Hawaii system is in the works for the fall of 2012.
How much the increase might be has yet to be determined, but approaches to setting new rates were offered for informational purposes during a UH Board of Regents meeting Thursday at the UH-Maui College.
Regents took no action and offered a comment or two following a PowerPoint presentation by Linda K. Johnsrud, UH vice president of academic planning and policy, and Karen C. Lee, associate vice president for student affairs.
Johnsrud told regents she plans to offer a tuition hike proposal at their next meeting in January. A series of public meetings would follow with a possible approval for increases by May or June 2011.
The approaches presented included aligning tuition to national or regional institutions that are UH's size, across-the- board percentage hikes or differential tuition rates based on such components as the campus attended, the program and whether the student is a Hawaii resident or not.
During a break in the meeting, Johnsrud said she needs to do further analysis before deciding on a formal proposal to bring to the board in January. She said she will be taking the advice of one regent, who recommended speaking with university researchers about a possible tuition hike and what residents in Hawaii's economy might be able to bear.
Johnsrud said a tuition increase is necessary to continue the university's mission to provide higher public education in a climate of fiscal austerity with state subsidies possibly declining over the next few years.
"There is no way we're going to maintain access without increasing tuition," she told regents.
The benefits of a tuition hike would include increased access to sources of financial aid, more course offerings, smaller classes, and the hiring and retention of qualified faculty, Johnsrud said.
She said increased revenue also could be used for facility and classroom improvements, increased security, and academic and support services.
The last approved UH tuition hike occurred in May 2005, when the tuition alone for a full-time undergraduate at the then-Maui Community College nearly doubled from $735 per semester to about $1,335 per semester this year at the newly named University of Hawaii Maui College.
Those tuition increases were opposed by many students across the state including those on Maui. University of Hawaii officials argued at the time that tuition hikes were necessary to bring the school's costs in line with Mainland peer institutions, where tuition had climbed in 2004 and 2005 by an average of 10 percent and by more than 20 percent at some state schools.
In Thursday's presentation, Johnsrud said one option being considered for raising tuition is to again move toward setting rates in line with the national or regional average of schools comparable to UH.
Under the national average scenario presented, the average resident tuition, including fees, for a full-time student going to a UH community college in 2009-10 was at $2,441 annually and could go up to $4,331 by the fall of 2016.
A UH-Manoa full-time undergraduate resident paying $7,168 in tuition and fees in the 2009-10 school year would see tuition nearly double to $13,332 by the school year 2016-17, according to Johnsrud's presentation. For Manoa, the possible tuition-and-fee increase would come to about 6.7 percent per year and for community colleges 7.8 percent annually over the next six years.
Tuition hikes would generate as much as $416.8 million in revenue across UH's 10 campuses if the national average approach was implemented.
Another possible option to setting tuition would be to charge 3 to 5 percent per year over the next six years, bringing in an estimated $391.8 million to the University of Hawaii system. In the scenario presented, the average UH community college tuition and fees would go from $2,441 to $3,521 annually.
At UH-Manoa, the tuition and fees would go from $7,168 in fall 2009 to $10,620 in fall 2016.
The third proposed option Johnsrud mapped out called for implementing different increases based on categories, such as the campus a student attends, the student's residency status and the professional programs (law, medicine and pharmacy) enrolled in. Differential increases were estimated to collect the lowest revenue of the three options at $362.6 million.
Johnsrud's presentation also showed that a community college student's current tuition payment covers about 15 percent of UH costs. At UH-Manoa, tuition covers about 35 percent of the actual cost of education.
Looking back at the last round of tuition hikes and their impact on under-represented groups such as Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Filipino students in the UH system, Johnsrud said the numbers increased rather than fell.
For example, the number of Native Hawaiians in the UH system was 6,396 in 2005 when tuition increases started and had risen to 9,754 in 2009.
Lee's report showed that financial aid rose from 8,184 students awarded federal Pell Grants, totaling $19.9 million in 2006, to 14,111 Pell Grants distributed, totaling $49 million in 2010.
Lee said, as tuition rises, UH also would propose increasing financial aid and work study.
In a separate presentation, the Board of Regents unanimously approved raising the per-semester student activity fee at the University of Hawaii-Manoa from $2.70 per student to $11 beginning in spring 2011.
Regents were told the proposed fee increase recommended by a UH student panel represented the first hike in 32 years.
* Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.