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The clock standing at the intersection of Twamley and Merrifield hall on Friday, in Grand Forks.

Jesse Trelstad, Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS -- Tuition at the University of North Dakota is likely to increase as campus leaders eye a hefty deferred maintenance backlog.

As permitted by the Legislature, UND has delivered proposals to the State Board of Higher Education to lift its rates for the next academic year by 4 percent for both resident and nonresident undergraduate students, the former of which fall under caps set by state lawmakers.

Tuition for students in graduate programs and the UND School of Law are not subject to legislative controls and could see even greater rate hikes for the 2017-18 academic year.

UND has proposed a 7 percent tuition increase for most graduate programs, as well as a 9 percent jump in rates at the law school. Tuition for the law program, which is the only one of its kind in North Dakota, have been ranked in the past among the least expensive -- if not the outright cheapest -- in the country. Even with the proposed rate increase, UND President Mark Kennedy said Tuesday he expects the school to be less expensive than the university’s graduate programs and remain among the very least expensive law programs of national accord.

Kennedy previously has advocated for increased law school tuition to boost revenue at a time of declining state appropriations. He also has suggested UND’s undergraduate tuition has been priced too far below regional competitors such as the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Minnesota. In-state students at those schools, he said, pay about $13,100 and $14,200 per year, respectively.

Current tuition rates for full-time, resident students at UND total to an annual cost of almost $8,140. Nonresidents pay a little less than $19,300 in tuition for a year of enrollment. If rates increase as currently proposed, in-state students would pay about $267 more while nonresidents would see an approximate bump of $713.

As proposed to the SBHE, 1 percent of UND’s tuition increase would be directed to a university capital fund, a pool that doesn’t currently exist on campus. Kennedy estimated that fund could provide an annual $1 million capital budget to pay down deferred maintenance costs.

Kennedy described campus revitalization as a valuable recruitment strategy for prospective students. To help address deferred maintenance costs, the state has provided in its appropriations a sum of $4.4 million in 2-1 matching funds, meaning UND needs to raise $8.8 million on its own to receive state dollars. State funding notwithstanding, university leaders have estimated a total campus backlog of $500 million in deferred maintenance needs.

“The state of North Dakota has not faced deferred maintenance in the mirror and said, ‘We have a real plan to address it,’” Kennedy said. “We’re trying to look in the mirror, and though we haven’t found the answer yet, we’re trying to look at everything we can.”

The SBHE will consider UND’s proposed tuition increases during its May 15 meeting.

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