For the fourth year in a row, one college in Utah is not increasing its tuition.
In continuing with its record, Southern Utah University has once again requested to keep its price for classes the same. Other public colleges in the state haven’t done that before, let alone multiple times.
“We don’t like to pay more,” said SUU Student Body President Nouman Kante with a laugh and a shrug.
The Utah Board of Higher Education, which oversees the state’s colleges and annually approves their individual tuition requests, applauded the decision as it approved tuition hikes for the remaining seven of the eight public colleges and universities in the state during its annual hearings Thursday.
Meanwhile, fees will increase at every institution, including by $44 per year at SUU. The school had the lowest combined hike, of both tuition and fees together, at 0.65%.
“I think it’s remarkable that SUU has been the leader for low-cost tuition for the past several years,” Kante added.
The University of Utah had the highest bump, at 4.8% overall, and continues to have the highest tuition in the state, at more than $10,000 per year.
The lowest tuition remained at Snow College in central Utah, at less than half that, coming in at $4,180 annually.
A few schools, including Utah State University, decided to request differential tuition amounts for certain programs, such as business, to keep the overall cost for most general students lower.
“Affordability is a top priority of the board, and after careful consideration, modest tuition and student fee increases for Utah’s public colleges and universities were approved,” said Harris Simmons, chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education, in a statement.
Overall, across the system, the average increase in tuition and fees was 3.41%, or $209 per student each year.
One board member, Aaron Osmond, voted against every tuition increase on principle, he said. He wasn’t opposed to the plans at any school, he said, but questioned if the hikes were the best way to support students who are still recovering from educational disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other members questioned increases to fees — and whether programs like mental health services should just be included in tuition. The board and the state’s colleges were chastised in 2020 for a lack of transparency in what can and should be a fee.
But ultimately, the hikes were approved, as requested by each institution. Here are the approved increases, in order of the highest overall combined cost of tuition and fees to the lowest.
University of Utah
• Tuition increase: 5.5%, or $475 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will decrease by $4.70, for a total of $1,184 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 4.8% increase overall, for $10,289 per year.
Tuition at state’s flagship university and research institution crossed $10,000 this year. And the U. more than doubled the percentage increase it had last year, which was 2.5%.
New U. President Taylor Randall, though, presented data that showed even with the bump, the school is the second cheapest to attend out of its fellow Pac-12 and Big 10 competitors.
Most of the funds raised with the new hike will go toward annual staff compensation increases, Randall said. Each year, the Legislature designates 75% of the funds needed to go to those mandated raises for state employees. Universities are expected to cover the rest with tuition.
The president said, based on pay, the Salt Lake City school is currently having a hard time keeping people employed in the lowest wage jobs on campus. Some of those are only 50% filled, he noted, and turnover is high. He hopes to address that with the tuition increase.
The fee decrease comes from eliminating the $2.35 per semester charge that went toward activities at the Student Union.
Additionally, though it’s not reflected in the tuition and fee numbers that are applied generally to most students, Randall has approved eliminating a select course fee that was charged to those who opted for online classes. That was costing students $60 per online class. And most students, he said, take two of those classes per year, saving them $120.
“We tried to strike that balance,” added Christian Gardner, chair of the U.’s board of trustees.
Utah State University
• Tuition increase: 3.5%, or $250 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will not change, remaining at $918 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.1% increase overall, for $8,305 per year.
Utah State is one of only two schools in the state that have opted not to increase student fees this year.
And the tuition increase, overall, is lower for its campuses than the 6% approved last year. USU’s main campus in Logan will see a 3.5% hike. And the statewide campuses in Blanding, Moab and Price will see an increase of 4.5%.
USU President Noelle Cockett said even though the percentage is higher for the southern and central Utah locations, the total dollar amount is lower because tuition there is cheaper and more in line with the price of a community college.
She said the rates are different because the school tries to “really personalize tuition,” based on location and access to resources.
Cockett also noted that 47% of students at the school last year received scholarships — with $100 million allocated total — so they did not pay the full price of tuition. And the university is rolling out a new program, called Aggie Promise, to cover the remaining tuition and fees for those who are low-income and eligible for federal grants.
The tuition increase at USU will also go, like the U., to covering employee salary increases.
Lucas Stevens, the student body president at USU, said his administration supports the increase.
“Student leaders understood that this tuition increase was to greater compensate university faculty and staff,” he said, noting that students want the best employees available to teach them.
Southern Utah University
• Tuition increase: None.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $44, for a total of $764 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 0.65% increase overall, for $6,770 per year.
While not increasing tuition, the Cedar City school will hike up its fees to give students more access to health care on campus, said interim President Mindy Benson. The additional fee charge will cover hiring additional counselors for the campus mental health care center and opening a student health clinic.
With counseling, Benson said, “that is an understaffed area and our students have a significant wait time.”
Currently, it takes about six weeks to see a counselor, added Richard Christiansen, chair of SUU’s board of trustees. He acknowledged the increase to fees to cover that is “pretty significant,” but said he believes it will help students overall.
The school also plans to start a clinic on campus where students can see a doctor, get a flu shot and fill prescriptions. The primary purpose, Benson said, is to help low-income and uninsured students. There will be no copay for them.
On campus, she noted, 10% of the students don’t have health insurance, and 23% have reported not having the means to pay for health care.
Weber State University
• Tuition increase: 2.66%, or $142 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $21, for a total of $920 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 2.62% increase overall, to $6,391 per year.
“We’re very conscientious about affordability,” said Weber State University President Brad Mortensen.
Outside of SUU having no tuition increase, Weber State is the next lowest increase of the state’s public colleges at 2.62% overall.
With the increase, though, Weber State continues to cost more than Utah Valley University, which it first rose above last year for having higher tuition.
The Ogden school said it will use the roughly $2 million raised in the hike to pay for faculty promotions.
Mortensen said the university will also use some of the money to try to recruit more students of color, particularly in the Latino community.
He shared stories of several students who have struggled to go to school, including one whose husband was diagnosed with cancer and another who was first-generation. He said the school will also continue to offer scholarships to help those from all backgrounds get a degree.
The fee increases will largely go to athletics and providing other campus activities and recreation options.
Utah Valley University
• Tuition increase: 4.6%, or $246 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $14, for a total of $656 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 4.33% increase overall, to $6,270 per year.
She has worked in recent years to keep it on the lower side, which she said benefits the unique students there. But she said a larger increase was needed this year to cover the pay increases for professors, which will cost about $2.6 million.
“We need to cover the compensation that is not covered by the state,” she said.
Last year, the tuition increase was 3.39% at UVU.
She also noted that 44% of students at the school receive grants and scholarships. Only 27%, she said, are paying the full price of tuition.
“But what you get for what you’re paying is good jobs,” Tuminez added.
The fee increase will cover a program — called Coordination Access to Resources and Education — that helps low-income students pay for basic needs, like groceries. There will also be a boost, too, to hire more counselors so students needing mental health care have shorter wait times.
Dixie State University
• Tuition increase: 4%, or $203 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $10, for a total of $808 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.63% increase overall, to $6,075 per year.
Dixie State University in St. George has crossed over the $6,000 threshold in tuition and fees this year.
Again, Dixie President Richard Williams said the increase is to cover staff wages. He noted there are 53 faculty members who will be advancing in rank this year.
Part of the tuition increase will also go to athletics. And about a half a percentage will cover a new partnership between the school and software company Pluralsight. Through that, students will be able to take specialized technology courses online.
“We believe we’re giving them the programs they need to be successful with academic and career outcomes,” Williams said.
The $10 increase in fees will be applied to increasing entertainment options on campus, including inviting a cappella, ballroom and improv groups to perform.
The school is currently in the process of changing its name, which many associate with the Confederacy and slavery.Williams said the university has agreed to wait until after spring graduation to fully integrate into Utah Tech University.
As it continues to grow, Williams also noted that the university is looking for ways to expand on-campus housing. All of its dorms are full this year, and 150 students were on a waitlist.“There’s a great need,” Williams added.
Salt Lake Community College
• Tuition increase: 4% or $138 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $12.75, for a total of $479 per year.
• New combined for average in-state student: 3.99% increase overall, to $4,249 per year.
SLCC serves the most diverse and nontraditional students of any college in the state. And the child care program, said President Deneece Huftalin, is crucial to making sure students who are also parents can attend their classes.
The school will be increasing the fee for child care services this year, as well as subsidizing the program with institutional funds and federal grants, to keep it going.
Originally, the student board wanted to increase all fees by $18.75, said Lindsay Simmons, the president of the student association there. But Huftalin had concerns about raising it that high, so she pulled college reserves out to cover the difference for fees to be raised to $12.75 instead.
“We don’t put the burden completely on students,” Huftalin said.
The tuition increase will also be used to cover employee salaries. And Huftalin said she is trying to find places to cut costs elsewhere. The school has eliminated requiring textbooks from more general education classes.
During the pandemic, it also eliminated the application fee to apply to SLCC. The president said there were some issues with that, though, where the college saw an increase in fraudulent applications.
It will now be charging $20. Previously, that was $40.
• Tuition increase: 5%, or $180 more per year.
• Additional fee changes: Fees will not change, remaining at $384 per year.
• New combined total for average in-state student: 4.5% increase overall, to $4,180 per year.
All of the tuition increase, he noted, will go to faculty raises. But students won’t be expected to cover all of the $110,000 need for the legislative match. Instead, the school will pull some funds from reserves, too.
Cook said he is sensitive to raising costs when 60% of the students at Snow College come from rural communities and its serves 5 of the poorest counties in Utah.
“Nobody like to raise tuition,” he said. “Nobody.”
The school is also looking at expanding student housing in the future, with its Richfield dorms full, Cook said. He worries that could be a barrier to increasing attendance.
Brady Curtis, the student body president at the college, said he supports the increase now and looking at ways to keep costs down in the future.
“Our school administration has been incredible at reaching out to students, educating us about the needs and the future of Snow College and sharing with us their great vision,” Curtis said.
None of the state’s eight technical colleges raised their cost of attendance this year. Part of that, acknowledged Dave Woolstenhulme, the commissioner of higher education for Utah, is because the Legislature funds faculty raises at those institutions at 100% instead of 75%.
“That’s intentional,” he said.