DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
University of Hawaii students might see a tuition increase for fall 2006 as administrators work on the school's budget plan. Students Sou-Chung "Sau" Hsu, left, and Dawn Sueoka seemed to blend into the mural at UH-Manoa's Campus Center on Tuesday.
for tuition hike
A consultant says UH's biggest
campus is the system's top bargain
Of the 10 University of Hawaii campuses, Manoa presents the best bargain and is the most likely candidate for a tuition increase, a consultant told UH administrators and lawmakers yesterday.
Dennis Jones, a national expert in university finance, said UH-Manoa brings in the least amount of money from tuition and fees per full-time equivalent student than similar institutions nationwide. In comparison, the seven community colleges are at about the middle or a little below their peer institutions.
"It is at Manoa that you have the greatest opportunity to raise tuition," Jones said. But, he added, "whether you do it is not up to me."
University administrators are working on a budget plan that is likely to include a tuition increase for fall 2006.
UH President David McClain stressed that no decisions have been made about tuition. He has previously said the increase might not be across the board, and some campuses could see higher tuition than others. He has also said that any tuition increase must also be balanced by increased financial aid.
Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, gave a presentation to UH administrators, lawmakers, regents and members of the governor's staff at the state Capitol.
He emphasized that tuition is only part of an overall public policy discussion that must include financial aid, affordability of the university for students, agreement on state funding and what the public expects from the university.
"It can't be just about raising more money," Jones said. "There are no simple answers to this. What does affordability mean? At what point does tuition become unaffordable?"
The university is asking the governor and the Legislature for $715.1 million for the two-year budget covering 2006 and 2007.
The request also includes a one-time $20 million appropriation to start a state financial aid fund.
McClain said UH is looking at how much money can be raised through fund raising, auxiliary services and research grants before deciding how much to raise student fees and tuition.
The tuition increase is expected to be presented to the regents in November. There will be public hearings, and the regents will likely decide the issue next spring.
Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village), while noting that only the regents have the authority to raise tuition, said his concern is that community colleges remain affordable.
"Community colleges provide the entry point" to higher education, he said.
House Higher Education Chairman K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City) said yesterday's meeting was a chance to start a discussion on "what is the fair share of costs borne by the taxpayers, by students and other sources."