UH board to consider new tuition schedule

HILO — A proposal before the University of Hawaii Board of Regents this week seeks to reduce already-approved tuition rates at the system’s 10 campuses — and keep those fees steady for the next several years.

At the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the plan will reduce the university’s currently approved 2019-20 tuition by 1 percent for undergraduate and graduate, resident and non-resident students, essentially keeping those at current rates.

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If approved, tuition rates for UH-Hilo undergraduate students will be $7,272 a year for residents, a reduction of $72, and $20,101 for non-residents, a drop of $203, for academic years 2019-20 to 2022-23.

Tuition for UH-Hilo graduate students would be $11,616 per year, a $120 decrease, and $20,101 for non-residents, $203 less.

UH community college (lower division) rates are $3,084 for residents for 12 credit hours, a 2 percent or $60 reduction, and $8,220 for non-residents, a 1 percent or $60 decline. Meanwhile, UH community college (upper division, or 300-level classes and higher) would be $7,272 for residents and $20,101 for non-residents.

The new tuition schedule is expected to positively impact student recruitment and retention, states a UH news release.

According to UH, some larger decreases apply to graduate and non-resident tuition rates, “which have risen substantially above peers and are now a hindrance to enrollment growth.”

Proposed decreases in non-resident tuition rates aim to improve the university system’s “competitiveness and attractiveness for non-resident students, a group for which UH has experienced substantial enrollment declines that it seeks to reverse in order to enhance revenue, strengthen the diversity of student experiences on UH campuses and positively impact the state’s economy,” the news release states.

Student populations at UH-Hilo and Hawaii Community College have declined each year since peaking in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Under the currently-approved tuition schedule, there was no tuition increase in 2017-18, and a 2 percent increase in place for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years at UH-Manoa, and 1 percent increases for other campuses.

“The proposed tuition cuts and freezes demonstrate the University of Hawaii’s commitment to making higher education in Hawaii affordable to all students,” said UH-Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai in an emailed statement. “Current and prospective UH-Hilo students, and likewise those at the other nine UH campuses, can take the pathway to obtaining their degrees under a more affordable tuition structure.”

Sakai said classes, programs and services currently offered by UH-Hilo will continue.

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“This unprecedented request would provide most UH students and their families with a flat tuition rate for five consecutive years including 2018–19,” said UH President David Lassner in the news release. “If approved, it will be a strong demonstration of our university commitment to affordability and will work in concert with the remarkable Early College and Hawaii Promise programs supported by the state to help bring the benefits of public higher education to more of Hawaii’s citizenry.”

The Board of Regents meets Thursday at UH-West Oahu.

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