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REGENTS GRAPPLE WITH WAYS TO HANDLE ENROLLMENT MESS

The State Board of Regents tried to figure out Friday how to lessen the pain of too few dollars for too many students.

But even after tentatively approving a potpourri of uncomfortable short-term and long range measures for the state's nine public colleges and universities, the regents still couldn't mitigate one painful fact - the schools will have to turn away 2,416 new students next fall.Nobody was really using the phrase enrollment caps - action that has been opposed by Gov. Norm Bangerter - at the regents' deliberations, but the bottom line of the regents' proposed action is just that. They couldn't come up with enough money to pay for all of the new students wanting to be admitted next fall, so there will be a limit at each school.

Faced with skyrocketing enrollments and funding woes for years, higher education has found itself in its biggest enrollment mess yet this spring because the Utah legislature funded only 28 percent, or 2,604 students, of the regents' enrollment request. Higher education officials had wanted state dollars to pay for $9,210 new full-time equivalent students.

Wm. Rolfe Kerr, commissioner of higher education, told the regents at a meeting at Dixie College the magnitude of the enrollment problem is staggering this year compared to 1991. Last year, lawmakers funded 70 percent of the enrollment growth request.

Kerr said he respects the governor's "no enrollment caps" position. "His feeling is that enrollment caps and limits are not the answer. My concern is that if they're not the answer, what is the answer?" Kerr asked.

There are two solutions: more revenue, mainly tuition; and management of enrollment within the capacity of each institution, he said. "We cannot continue doing what we've been doing. It cannot be business as usual," the commissioner said.

The regents are expected to finalize their enrollment management measures Saturday. Proposals vary by school because of different situations of each, but those tentatively approved Friday include:

- Enrollment limits: The schools will be allowed flexibility in admitting students beyond those for which they receive funding. The regents said they realize that enrollment projections are not exact, and some flexibility is necessary. However, schools admitting students over a designated flexibility limit will be required to absorb the cost of those students and will not be allowed to seek legislative appropriations in the future to cover their costs.

- Tuition surcharge: A tuition surcharge of $1 per credit hour would be charged to Utah State University students. The average USU student, who takes 15 credit hours per quarter, would pay $45 more per year. A tuition surcharge is temporary.

- Tuition increase: Utah Valley Community College students would see an 8 percent tuition increase instead of the 4 percent originally announced. UVCC president Kerry Romesburg said this increase would match UVCC tuition with Salt Lake Community College tuition. UVCC has been moving in that direction for several years.

- Non-resident tuition: Non-residents, who now pay tuition 3.2 times higher than residents, would pay the full cost of their education. This increase would be phased in over two years. The increase, which hadn't been worked out yet for each school, would range from approximately $350 to $750 per student each year.

- Summer quarter tuition: Colleges now give non-resident students a tuition break in the summer by letting them pay resident rates. Schools will be given the option of charging full cost to non-residents attending summer school.

- Applications deadlines: The universities will enforce their application deadlines or adopt one. In the past the deadlines have been soft or non-existent.

- Tougher admission standards: The four universities will strengthen admission standards for fall 1993 by using higher admission indices. The admission index is a combination of a high school GPA and ACT or SAT scores.

- Common course requirements: The University of Utah and USU will adopt the same list of high school course requirements, with the exception of foreign language required for the U. alone.