Determining how high UH tuition goes starts with testimony

Travis Quezon

HONOLULU—A full-time resident student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa currently pays $4,200 per semester (up $400 from the year before). Non-resident students pay $11,616 per semester. Those numbers are expected to go up by next year.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will be hearing testimony on and presenting proposals for a system-wide tuition hike tomorrow on Maui.

To see the August 25 BOR meeting agenda and for information on testifying, click here

As the university is in the process of finalizing its budget, there aren’t yet any specifics as to how much students’ tuition will be rising. However, The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that the BOR will be presenting three proposals that would raise tuition from about 16 percent to about 46 percent by 2016 for a typical undergraduate student at the Manoa campus.

The tuition hike comes after a continuing series of budget cuts made by Hawaii lawmakers. UH saw a 21 percent decrease to its general funds in FY2010, about $98 million. FY2011 saw UH’s executive budget reduced by nearly $110 million.

The cuts have led to reduced pay for faculty and staff; a reduction in classes and services for students; and difficulty for students hoping to graduate on time—despite a State initiative to hand out 25 percent more degrees by 2015.

Those problems have only compounded with the recent growth of the student body. The state-wide university system reached an all-time high enrollment with more than 60,000 students in Fall 2010. UH officials estimate that the number of students isn’t likely to be going down this current fall semester.

While the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii (ASUH), the Manoa campus’ governing student body, does not yet have an official statement prepared, ASUH president Anna Koethe told The Hawaii Independent that she was strongly opposed to any tuition increases.

ASUH represents over 11,000 full-time undergraduates at UH Manoa.

“I understand that costs of living are on the rise, and recognize that the BOR may need to consider increasing tuition for students on our Manoa campus,” Koethe said. “Should the Regents choose to increase our tuition, I encourage them to support the proposal that will have the least amount of negative impact on our students.”

For a breakdown of UH tuition costs over the last three years, click here

Koethe said ASUH is currently working on getting more information about the different proposals for tuition increases, and will work to ensure that the student voice is heard and well-represented throughout the process.

The next steps in the university’s budget process include a Council on Revenues meeting on September 6; hearing input from the BOR and President prior to September 29; receiving approval on a budget at the September 29 BOR meeting; submitting the budget to the State Department of Budget and Finance; the governor introducing his executive budget; and finally waiting for lawmakers budget decisions in the 2012 legislative session.

In planning its supplemental budget for 2013, UH officials prioritized rebuilding the State’s workforce, and addressing Native Hawaiians and under-served regions and populations of Hawaii. It’s up to Hawaii’s residents and students to remind officials about those priorities as they figure out a “realistic” budget.

To see a presentation of UH’s FY2013 supplemental budget, click here

For more information, or to communicate directly with the Board of Regents, call (808) 956-8213.