KINGSTON – With nearly flat level funding from the state to public colleges, the University of Rhode Island has no choice but to raise tuition for Rhode Islanders by 9.5 percent for the fall of 2012.
“We’ve run out of degrees of freedom in our budget,” Donald DeHayes, ProVost and Vice President of Academic Affairs said.
University officials presented its budget, including the proposed tuition hike last Friday at a meeting with the finance committee of the Board of Governors for Higher Education. Rhode Island College tuition may rise 4 percent, while the Community College of Rhode Island may rise 7.5 percent
The proposed tuition increase comes as a result of an assumption built into the University budget that URI will receive level funding in state appropriation.
“It’s a reality of the numbers. We only have two revenue streams, state appropriation and tuition,” DeHayes said. “This is the first year in our request in the budget that we assume level funding in state appropriation. This year we’re holding all variables constant except tuition.”
Currently, the state appropriation accounts for 17 percent of the total general and educational budget at URI.The current state appropriation to URI for FY 2012 is $58,548,316 net of general obligation bonds debt service. Since FY 2007, Michael Trainor, Special Assistant to the Commissioner in the Office of Higher Education said URI has experienced a 24 million or 29 percent decline in state support. This represents $32 million or 35 percent decline when adjusted for inflation.
DeHayes said the decrease in state support over the years has affected URI’s ability to employ needed faculty.
“We have the same number of faculty members as 10 years ago, but 4,000 more students,” DeHayes said.
With little state funding, DeHayes said URI’s only option is to raise tuition for instate students. For FY 2013, the proposed increases include a 9.5 percent increase for Rhode Islanders or an increase from $9,800 to $10,878 for tuition. Tuition for out-of-state students would rise two percent from $26,000 to $26,444. This does not include the fees, which URI officials have not determined yet.
Tuition for Rhode Islanders is still below the regional average versus out-of-state tuition which is above average. DeHayes said the regional average for out-of-state students is in the low to mid $20,000.
“URI has the second highest tuition for out-of-state students in the region for a public research institution,” DeHayes said.
DeHayes said URI chose to raise tuition for in-state students rather than out-of-state students because not only is out-of-state tuition well above the average, but the University depends on out-of-state students’ tuition for financial aid to Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Islanders receive 43 percent of that financial aid, DeHayes said. The target population for out-of-state students on campus is 38 to 40 percent.