All of Utah’s colleges will increase tuition and fees. Here’s a rundown.

All eight of the state’s public colleges and universities will increase tuition and fees for fall 2024. Students can see what’s happening at their institution in this breakdown.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The University of Utah campus on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. The U. has the highest dollar tuition increase of the state's eight public colleges and universities for fall 2024.

After a year of mandatory tuition freezes, what Utah students pay for college is about to start going up again.

All eight of the state’s public colleges and universities were approved for tuition and fees increases that will start in the fall.

The largest dollar bump is at the University of Utah, while the largest percentage increase is at Salt Lake Community College. The smallest hike is at Weber State University, while Snow College remains the cheapest overall option in the state.

At the same time, Southern Utah University will see its first increase to tuition in five years.

The Utah Board of Higher Education, which oversees the state’s schools, scrutinized the annual proposals during a seven-hour meeting Friday, with intense back-and-forth over the figures that students would be charged.

“We recognize the precious dollars students contribute toward their training and education,” said board Chair Amanda Covington.

The increases this year followed a freeze that Gov. Spencer Cox placed on tuition for the 2023-24 academic year, meant to help students catch their breath after the pandemic and with rising inflation. And for the first time ever, the board didn’t rubberstamp every request presented to it.

Board members voted to reduce the proposed increases for four of the eight schools. And it didn’t approve any total increase above 4%.

That comes after the board — which has since been overhauledfaced heat in a state audit for approving requests without question or analysis, never rejecting a proposed hike.

Covington said there will be more rigor moving forward. She also asked each institution to evaluate further budget reductions and plan to present those to the board. Keeping higher education affordable, she said, is “our commitment and charge.”

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: 3.5%, or $319 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $19, for a total of $1,203 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.28% increase overall, for $10,625 per year.

The state’s flagship university and research institution continues to have the highest tuition in the state — surpassing the next highest university in Utah by a difference of more than $2,000 per year. But U. President Taylor Randall said the school remains among the cheapest with its peer institutions out of state, and the return on investment for students is significant.

Those who graduate from the school, he said, have an average starting annual salary of $65,000. “The payback comes really quick,” Randall added.

Most of the funds raised with the new hike will go toward annual staff compensation increases, the president said. Each year, the Legislature designates 75% of the funds needed to go to those mandated raises for state employees, meant to offset inflation. Universities are expected to cover the rest with tuition, as well as the cost of any additional promotions.

Randall said there are 8,000 faculty members on campus, and $2.5 million is needed to retain them.

Another $2 million will go toward career services for students, funding advisers who counsel students on how to land jobs and negotiate for higher salaries. Randall said he believes that resource has made an impact already with that starting salary amount.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah President Taylor Randall looks over campus from a balcony at Richards Hall, part of the Ivory University House complex, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Student fee increases, an additional $6 per year — for $36 total annually per student — will be funneled to increasing access to mental health services on campus. A recent survey found that 20% of U. students miss at least one school activity a week, Randall said, because of their mental health.

At the same time as the increases, Randall said he’s identified $100 million of costs within the U.’s budget that he believes can be reduced over the next three years; the hope, he said, is to ease the burden on students as much as possible.

The proposal from the U. was approved by the board without any changes. There will be higher differential tuition rate increases for the school’s executive MBA, professional MBA and online MBA programs.

Utah State University

• Tuition increase: 3.24%, or $239.34 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $15.38, for a total of $932.92 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.06% increase overall, for $8,559 per year.

The higher education board approved a slightly lower tuition hike than USU had proposed, with the school asking for 3.4% and receiving 3.24%. But its fees were increased as requested — and will only go up at the main Logan campus (not its satellite campuses in eastern and southern Utah).

The largest percentage change in student fees is for transportation, with a 5% bump and now $41.08 per student per year. That will go toward getting new buses for the campus routes, including some that are better accommodated for students with disabilities.

Money from the tuition increase, said USU Vice President Dave Cowley, will also go toward scholarships for students.

Utah Board of Higher Education member Jon Cox questioned why the school would raise tuition to cover scholarships that then are used to pay for rising tuition. Cowley responded that the school doesn’t want to decrease the number of students it can serve with scholarships and private endowments aren’t enough to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, the school has recently been facing flattening enrollment. USU President Betsy Cantwell said that has been a challenge — and it factored into the board not approving the full tuition increase. Board members encouraged the school to look at ways to be more efficient with the money it has and cautioned that an increase could drive more students away.

Southern Utah University

• Tuition increase: 3%, or $180 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $13, for a total of $776 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 2.85% increase overall, for $6,962 per year.

After five years without a tuition increase, SUU President Mindy Benson said the Cedar City school had no choice this year and needed a hike to cover rising costs.

“We’ve reallocated and really tried to be good stewards with our tuition,” she noted.

Like the U., most of the money raised through the higher tuition will go to staff and faculty pay, as well as hiring additional professors.

The increases in fees will mostly be used to bump up the salaries of students who work at the tutoring and testing centers at the school. The changes were approved by the Utah Board of Higher Education as they were proposed by SUU.

Weber State University

• Tuition increase: 2.75%, or $150 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $16, for a total of $936 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 2.61% increase overall, to $6,557 per year.

“We are committed to our mission and our growth, and I hope that shows through,” said Weber State President Brad Mortensen.

The school in Ogden proposed — and was granted — the lowest tuition and fee increase of the institutions in the state. And the board commended the president for keeping costs affordable.

Utah higher education Commissioner Geoff Landward said Weber State “did the most detailed and rigorous scrutiny of the tuition proposal of all the institutions.”

The rate matches its last tuition and fee hike in fall 2022 at 2.62% overall.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Graduates stand at the Weber State University graduation at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Friday, April 28, 2017.

The money raised, Mortensen said, will largely go toward campus utilities, power and fuel, and cybersecurity software and updates. The school, he said, has worked hard to reallocate other funding to cover most costs, even with growth in the student body.

It also continues to extend more than $88 million a year in financial aid, supporting more than 12,000 students to attend at a reduced cost.

Utah Valley University

• Tuition increase: 3.64%, or $204 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $34.09, for a total of $690.09 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.8% increase overall, to $6,508 per year.

UVU President Astrid Tuminez had originally asked for a 4.27% combined increase in tuition and fees, but she scaled back her request in a new proposal she presented Friday that was approved by the higher education board.

The Orem school has the highest enrollment of any public college or university in the state with more than 44,000 students. In the updated plan, Tuminez said her focus is to “build on the momentum” UVU has had with retaining students and getting them to finish a degree.

Since she became president in 2018, the school’s completion rate has increased from 36% to 46%. That’s particularly noteworthy for a school that is open enrollment, meaning any student is accepted regardless of GPA or test scores.

“There hasn’t been a year I’ve been here that it hasn’t grown,” Tuminez said.

The board initially bristled at the original proposal for a 10% increase in the fee for student athletics. That was reduced to 3%, or $4.69 additional per student each year, for a total annual athletics fee of $161.11 per student.

Tuminez said a lot of the school’s sponsorships for athletics have run out, and UVU now has to cover the costs. Additionally, she noted, the cost for athletes to travel to events has increased.

But with the school being an open enrollment institution, she said, those athletic events tend to bring students together and build community. She credited them with being an important part of campus life. “It builds a lot of pride,” Tuminez said.

The school will also add new positions to its student health and wellness center to increase access and availability. And it will spend some, too, to improve digital connections, including with new apps that UVU has been testing that run through artificial intelligence and give students 24/7 access to a computerized teaching assistant that can answer questions.

UVU did recently cut its Intensive English Program, Tuminez noted, which aided students who don’t speak English as a first language. She said studies have shown those students do better immersed in traditional classes, and there are other resources for them on campus. Staff, though, have spoken out against the closure.

With one of the higher tuition and fee increases, the higher education board asked Tuminez to come back to present on other ways in which she intends to reduce costs.

Utah Tech University

• Tuition increase: 3.2%, or $168.54 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $64, for a total of $872 per year.

• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.82% increase overall, to $6,307 per year.

The board approved a lower tuition increase than Utah Tech University had requested, landing on 3.2% instead of the full 3.5%. But the fee increases were approved as submitted by the St. George school.

The school had the highest fee increase of any institution, with the money earmarked to help fund a new student union building. The hike was voted on by students, and had support from 64.5%, said interim President Courtney White. The fee for that building will be an additional $22 per student per semester.

The current building was constructed in 1994 and a new one “is several decades overdue,” added Tiffany Wilson, chair of Utah Tech’s board of trustees. In the 30 years since then, the enrollment at Utah Tech has expanded four times, to its current 12,500 students. The updated building will feature more dining options for students, as well as spaces for student clubs and events.

(Jud Burkett | Special to The Tribune) Crews work on replacing the words “Dixie State” with “Utah Tech” on the east side of Greater Zion Stadium Friday, June 3, 2022 on the campus of Utah Tech University.

Again, White said the tuition increases will go to cover staff wages, with $200,000 needed for professor rank advancements. Utah Tech spends about 80% of its budget, he noted, on personnel costs.

He stressed, though, that he feels the institution “remains affordable.” The president said he’s currently evaluating the school’s various software agreements to see if there are places there to cut costs.

Salt Lake Community College

• Tuition increase: 3.99% or $151 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $18.88, for a total of $497.88 per year.

• New combined for average in-state student: 3.98% increase overall, to $4,427 per year.

Salt Lake Community College was granted the highest percentage increase to tuition and fees, though the board approved an amount that was lower than requested.

Outgoing SLCC President Deneece Huftalin said the school has tried to keep fees low — in part, to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic — and that’s led to budget deficits that she’s now trying to make up. She worried, without more funding, that the community college may have to make staff and faculty cuts.

“We’ve pulled all of these levers to get the price down,” she said. “We’re really trying.”

Huftalin recommended that the state Legislature possibly consider funding the community college as it does with the state’s eight technical colleges — where 100% of the annual staff compensation increases are covered and there were no tuition increases this year. Members of the Utah Board of Higher Education agreed that proposal would be worth approaching, as the aims of community college are different than a traditional four-year university.

SLCC currently serves the most diverse and nontraditional students of any school in the state. And it’s seen a large driver in educating the workforce of Salt Lake County and the state — at a low cost.

At the same time, though, like USU, SLCC is battling declining enrollment.

“We’ve got to figure out how to figure that out,” emphasized Javier Chavez Jr., a member of the higher education board.

With the fee increases, in particular, Huftalin noted that those will go largely toward child care services for student-parents. There are child care services at two of the SLCC campuses; and the school gives out vouchers to parents to also take their kids elsewhere, if needed.

That’s a huge factor, Huftalin said, in getting students to attend the community college. Many are parents or work jobs. The average age of a student at SLCC is 26 years old.

Snow College

• Tuition increase: 3.5%, or $133 more per year.

• Additional fee changes: Fees will increase by $24, for a total of $408

• New combined total for average in-state student: 3.75% increase overall, to $4,337 per year.

The state’s smallest school — at an enrollment of 5,500 students — also continues to have the smallest tuition and fee costs. The proposal from the central Utah college was approved without changes.

“That’s such a huge goal of ours: access and affordability,” said Snow College President Stacee McIff.

McIff said she wants to keep the price tag low, noting that 73% of students there are considered low-income, with many coming from rural households.

The main fee increase is for student events — which was consolidated from other allocations — funding one campuswide activity per week The school also recently added men’s and women’s wrestling teams, with a female Snow College student winning a national championship in the sport this year. And it will add men’s and women’s cross country in the fall.

“That’s an enrollment strategy, as well as a student engagement activity,” McIff said.

Meanwhile, 85% of the students at Snow College either graduate or transfer to a bigger school, and McIff said that’s a number she’s proud of. She intends to continue that focus.

( Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kaylene Finch, general study major, left, and Geoff Canaan, who is undecided in his major study in a lounge in the classroom building at Snow College.