The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees could vote to raise tuition for most students by 4 percent during a March meeting — in keeping with a board policy adopted in 2015 calling for a 4 percent raise every year at least through 2019.
The increased revenue would pay for faculty and staff pay raises, academic unit budgets, UW Libraries and UW Information Technology, according to the policy.
The landscape is different this year, however, as the board will consider the tuition increase not long after receiving a far-ranging capacity study that suggested significantly reducing non-resident undergraduate tuition.
The Huron Consulting Group’s capacity study — presented by Rose Martinelli, the group’s senior director in higher education — recommends lowering the sticker price on out-of-state tuition from $10,600 to $9,500, with further discounts for the highest-achieving students.
“The state of Wyoming is only going to present us with incremental growth opportunities,” Martinelli said in December. “It’s a small state with a fairly flat population, with a very diversified propensity to go to college. So, to grow enrollment will require us to think outside of our borders.”
In advance of the March meeting, UW trustees sought input from the public and set aside time during the February meeting’s agenda for community comment. While no one spoke in person during the meeting, roughly 70 people responded to an online request for comments.
The results were slightly more negative than positive, said Dan Maxey, chief of staff for UW President Laurie Nichols.
“The reactions were somewhat mixed,” he said. “We got some folks who said they were in support and some who either didn’t support the recommendations or had different ideas about what we should do.”
The comments — scrubbed of names — were published on the trustees’ website and can be accessed under the “February 14, 2018” link at www.uwyo.edu/trustees/2018-meeting-materials/index.html.
“And as you can imagine, if you’ve looked over these responses, it’s a little complicated to categorize some of them because some people had, even within their comments, somewhat mixed statements and comments,” Maxey said.
Some saw the proposed tuition increases as necessary, given the state’s current economic situation.
“UW is very inexpensive and will remain so even with an increase,” writes one commenter from Laramie. “It would be good to provide information about tuition increases to students so they have some sense of how much they will pay during their 4‐year education. Also, it is important that the tuition increase does not fund pet projects.”
Others offered support of lowering out-of-state tuition.
“If the tuition was brought down, it would lighten the load a lot on me and my family to pay for school,” writes one non-resident student from Tennessee. “Residents already (pay) little to nothing to go here and raising their prices should not be an issue if you compare it to every other school in the United States.”
Many commenters, however, did not approve of either raising tuition for most students or lowering it for non-resident undergraduates.
“Quit raising the price, seriously,” writes one Laramie-based student. “It’s (obvious) this university is just a business that wants to get ahead, and doesn’t care about our education. Quit making me pay more money for things that don’t impact me.”
Many parents — as well as students — opposed the tuition increase.
“I do (not) support another increase in tuition for in‐state students,” writes a staff member with one child enrolled and another considering UW. “As a middle-class family, we do not qualify for any type of assistance. As a UW employee, I have not gotten a raise in years to help cover the costs of increased tuition.”
Some commenters even took an angrier tone.
“You are going in the wrong direction,” writes either a student or the parent of a student. “You should be jacking up the non‐resident tuition rates so that the dope smokers from down south will quit coming up here. Create a third rate that’s even higher for international students. Keep the resident tuition where it is.”
The board plans to meet March 21-23 and discuss the tuition recommendations, though an agenda for the three-day meeting has yet to be released.