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College in Utah will cost more next fall — with one exception

On average, college tuition going up just under 2% systemwide at Utah public colleges, universities

Banners are posted at Southern Utah University in Southern Utah University on Oct. 21, 2020.
Banners are posted at Southern Utah University in Southern Utah University on Oct. 21, 2020.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuition and fees will rise slightly at Utah’s public colleges and universities next fall after the Utah Board of Higher Education agreed to recommendations made by the institutions.

On average, tuition at Utah’s degree-granting colleges and universities will increase by just under 2%, with all but Southern Utah University seeking a slight hike. Next fall, SUU’s tuition and fees will decrease by $44, or 0.64%. This was the third consecutive year the university sought no increase and for the coming year, reducing costs.

The rates approved by the board apply to resident undergraduate students taking 15 credits per semester for two semesters.

SUU also announced this week that it will offer an online bachelor of general studies degree program that will cost no more than $9,000. According to the university, the program — at $75 per credit hour — will be the least expensive college degree offered by any public university in the country.

“At SUU, we believe it’s our moral responsibility to offer a college degree that provides both quality and affordability,” SUU President Scott L Wyatt said in a statement.

“The cost of higher education has outpaced inflation and prohibited some from the opportunity to attend college. Our new online bachelor of general studies degree is meant to be a disrupter in the higher education model and be more inclusive.”

The new degree will focus on people who are in the workforce and want to advance their career or those who have some college credit but no degree and have been unable to complete it due to cost.

The Board of Higher Education on Friday approved tuition and fee adjustments recommended by board of trustees at the eight universities.

In 2018, a legislative audit criticized the then-board of regents for not adequately controlling tuition increases. It found that state college and university tuition had increased by nearly $132 million over the past five year and called for greater scrutiny.

Recently, another audit concluded that many fees had been assessed for services students didn’t use and it asked the board to review that as well. In October 2020, the board called for comprehensive review of all general student fees by boards of trustees to determine if fees should be retained, transitioned to tuition or repealed.

The board approved recommendations by institutional boards of trustees to eliminate, on average, more than 11.5% of general student fees for degree-granting institutions and move those fees to tuition.

Utah Board of Higher Education Chairman Harris Simmons said the board has taken steps to ensure that the cost of college is transparent to Utah students.

“Beyond public truth-in-tuition hearings held by Utah colleges, many general student fees are now wrapped into tuition, giving students a more straightforward look at college costs. 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,” Simmons said in a statement.

Tuition rates at Utah’s eight technical colleges will remain the same for the coming 2021-22 fiscal year. The Utah Legislature funds faculty raises at technical colleges at 100% compared to 75% at degree-granting colleges and universities.

Salt Lake Community College’s School of Applied Technology requested a 5 cent or 2% per membership-hour increase for the coming fiscal year, which was also approved by the board.

Among institutions seeking tuition and fee adjustments, percentage increases ranged from 1.56% at the University of Utah, or $151 more, to 3.53% at Dixie State University, which will come to a $200 increase.

In dollars, a 2.25% increase at Snow College will translate into an $88 hike in tuition and fees for the lowest overall dollar increase. At Utah State University’s Logan campus, a 2.49% hike will come to $195.