This story originally published on May 15 at IdahoEdNews.org.
Idaho students and their parents will have to pay more for college this fall — about $400 or so.
The State Board of Education on Monday agreed to a series of tuition and fee hikes, including cost increases for Idahoans seeking a bachelor’s degree.
The board and the four-year schools agreed to freeze undergraduate tuition in late 2019, in hopes of convincing high school graduates to stay in school and continue their education in Idaho.
But on Monday, the board and college and university leaders were again in agreement, however reluctantly. They said the state has no choice but to raise tuition, saying three years of freezes had forced the schools to make painful budget decisions.
“I don’t feel we can do that any further,” said State Board President Linda Clark, moments before the board approved the fee increases in a series of unanimous votes.
Here’s how the new in-state, undergraduate costs break down:
University of Idaho
Boise State University
Idaho State University
Lewis-Clark State College
In terms of raw dollars, the increases range from $392 at Lewis-Clark to $420 at the U of I.
School administrators said two main factors drove the need for the increases: inflation and pay raises. The 2023 Legislature approved pay raises for professors and staff, but didn’t fully fund these raises.
So even though next year’s higher education budget includes a 4.7% increase from state tax collections, it actually fails to cover costs, Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee told the board Monday.
In order to fully bridge the gap, he said, Idaho State would need to boost tuition and fees by 8%. The 5% increase “strikes the best balance” between covering inflation and holding the line on student costs.
Incoming student body president Emma Watts acknowledged the budget realities facing Idaho State — including financial factors outside the university’s control. She urged legislators to pay more attention to the needs facing Idaho State.
U of I, Boise State and Lewis-Clark made similar appeals — and school administrators said, secondhand, that student leaders were sympathetic to the need for the tuition and fee increases.
State Board members tried to put the increases into perspective.
Currently, Idaho’s tuition ranks sixth lowest in the nation, board member Bill Gilbert said. The increases would leave Idaho’s costs ninth lowest in the nation — assuming no other states raise their costs, he said, which is unlikely.
“We’re still one of the most cost-effective places to pursue a college education,” board member Kurt Liebich said.
Presidents get pay raises
Before increasing tuition, the State Board quickly and unanimously approved a series of presidential pay raises.
U of I President C. Scott Green will receive $465,235, up 5.5%.
Boise State President Marlene Tromp, will receive $459,666, up 5%.
Satterlee will receive $441,000, a 5% increase.
Lewis-Clark President Cynthia Pemberton will receive $288,750, also a 5% increase.