At a time when families are paying more for gas, groceries and living expenses, the University of Nebraska system will once again freeze tuition for all students as part of a proposed budget of operation 2022-23 published on June 15.
The proposed budget, which will be presented to the Board of Directors at its June 23 meeting, completes a three-year system-wide plan to manage the fiscal challenges created by covid-19 while positioning the university for long-term success.
Ted Carter, President of the A system, said the budget is a strong statement of the institution’s priorities — starting with affordable access for students and families who are facing the highest rates of inflation in 40 years.
“As any family or business in Nebraska knows, every dollar counts. Families face tough decisions these days, and we want them to know that we are doing everything we can to ensure that a University of Nebraska education remains within the reach of every student,” said Carter. “That’s why we’ve committed across the university system to making the necessary budget cuts to freeze tuition fees at all levels for two consecutive years. Access to higher education matters more than ever. If we are to produce the workforce Nebraska needs and grow our economy for the future, we must ensure that no student is denied the opportunity to pursue a college education.
AThe proposed budget limits year-over-year growth to 1.3%, well below current inflation rates and below overall state government growth. After adjusting for inflation, A the system’s budget was brought back to the level of a decade ago, in part through cuts of $48 million from 2020 to 2023. This includes a 20% reduction in administrative costs that Carter implemented in the A system president’s office.
With the budget, the university will complete a three-year plan announced in 2020 shortly after the pandemic hit. The plan included back-to-back tuition freezes, significant spending cuts across the system, and targeted investments in strategic priorities such as financial aid, faculty competitiveness, and building maintenance that would advance the momentum of the university even during a difficult time.
“With this budget, we’re doing what we said we would do,” Carter said. “The Chancellors and I knew we couldn’t take the approach of just ‘waiting out’ the pandemic. The needs of our students, our state, and our workforce are too important to hide.
“So we built a plan to put ourselves in a position of strength. We had to make tough decisions and we were conservative in our planning, but I’m really proud to say that we maintained our upward trajectory. Through hard work and discipline, the University of Nebraska today is well positioned to help produce the manpower, research, and services Nebraska needs to thrive.
Key elements of the proposed budget for 2022-2023 include:
The second consecutive tuition fee freeze as part of a broad effort to provide predictability during a difficult time. With the freeze, all universities at the University of Nebraska will continue to be among the top values in their peer groups.
An expanded investment in the Nebraska Promise, under which qualified Nebraska students with a household income of $65,000 or less can attend college tuition-free. More than 7,000 students currently qualify for the Nebraska Promise.
Modest fee increases to invest more resources in campus mental health services, a key priority for Carter and the chancellors.
Funding for faculty and staff salary increases, including additional investments to close the gap between University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty and their peers, a key pillar of the Carter’s system-wide strategic plan.
Over $48 million in cuts since 2020 to ensure limited resources are directed to priorities. Carter said the university will seek additional efficiencies as budget uncertainties continue locally and nationally.
The board will also consider the proposed operating budget for 2022-23 for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture on June 23. The board will consider the University of Nebraska’s 2023-25 budget request to the State of Nebraska at its August meeting.