UMS to seek funding, tuition hikes

Posted Sept. 15, 2008, at 8:12 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:17 a.m.

ORONO, Maine — University of Maine System board of trustees will seek a 4½ percent increase in funding and a tuition increase in each year in the next two-year budget cycle as part of the system’s request to state lawmakers.

Trustees who voted on the budget request Monday say the system is operating under a self-imposed $19.1 million reduction in costs. But they say they’ll still need more money from the state and from tuition increases because of increases in energy and health care costs.

Trustees say they hope to keep the tuition increase below 6 percent. Chancellor Richard Pattenaude said tuition increases are the “revenue source of last resort.”

“We all recognize the importance of holding the line on tuition,” he said in a release. “We are determined to do whatever we can to keep higher education accessible and affordable for students and their families.”

Last May trustees adopted a budget for the current fiscal year that included a 10 percent tuition increase.

Under the proposal, the university system’s state appropriation would grow to $194.5 million in fiscal 2010 and $203.2 million in fiscal 2011.

The current state appropriation for the system is $186 million, which represents 36 percent of the system’s total unrestricted operation budget and excludes grants, contracts and other dedicated funds.

The proposed rate of increase will not be determined until the Legislature approves the state’s biennial budget in the first half of 2009. The size of the system’s appropriation will influence the exact size and percentage of the 2009-10 academic year tuition rates and fees.

Trustees also voted to request a two-year, $3 million increase in the Maine Economic Improvement Fund, a partnership between the state and the university which provides matching funds to help leverage federal grants and contracts for support university-based research.

Construction on a $5 million expansion to the Advanced Engineered Wood Composite Center in Orono also was approved Monday. The expansion costs will be fully funded by a recently approved grant from the Maine Technology Institute.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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