By GRANT SCHULTE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Undergraduates at Nebraska’s three state colleges will pay 9 percent more for tuition this coming school year under a proposal approved Thursday by the system’s trustee board.
The Nebraska State College System board voted 4-1 in favor of the increase at its meeting in Wayne, with two members absent.
Resident undergraduates will pay $153 per credit hour for the 2015-16 school year at Chadron State, Peru State and Wayne State colleges. Online-only tuition will rise to $246 per credit hour from $225 per hour.
The system froze undergraduate tuition at $140 per credit hour for each of the past two years as part of an agreement reached by Nebraska’s public colleges and universities and then-Gov. Dave Heineman.
A spokeswoman for the system said the increase will help cover business costs such as insurance, salaries and utilities, as well as the expense of adding more faculty positions.
“It was a very considered, difficult decision,” said Korinne Tande, the vice chancellor for student affairs, marketing, enrollment and public information.
Tande said an undergraduate paying in-state tuition and taking a typical 15-hour course load would pay about $900 more per year. Even with the increase, she said the colleges are still the most affordable four-year option in the state.
Wayne State College junior Matt Mullins, who serves on the trustee board, said the increase was necessary to compensate for a smaller-than-expected increase in state funding.
Nebraska lawmakers approved a 3 percent annual increase for the University of Nebraska and state colleges in the two-year budget which passed in May. Mullins said the state aid increase wasn’t enough to cover the colleges’ core expenses.
Last week, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved a 1.75 percent tuition increase for the upcoming school year and a 2.5 percent increase the following year.
Mullins said the state colleges have worked to control their expenses, but also need to preserve their quality.
“A tuition increase is never easy - not for students, not for the board,” said Mullins, 20.
The news raised concern among some students. Wayne State College sophomore Veronica Zavadil, 18, said the increase would likely force her to borrow more through student loans.
“It’s a huge concern,” said Zavadil, a criminal justice major. “A lot of people can’t afford tuition as it is.”