What the U's finance chief told the House higher education commitee

The University of Minnesota's finance chief told state legislators Monday that colleges have raised tuition in part because ... they can.

When a House higher-ed committee member Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) asked Richard Pfutzenreuter why tuition everywhere was so high, the U official had this explanation:

"To be honest, it's been there because higher ed could increase tuition. It was there to raise. It was money that universities needed, and they raised it."

At the U, he said, presidents wanted to invest in the university or raise employees' compensation.

Committee Chairman Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) called it the day's "most intriguing" statement.

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Winkler says he found Pfutzenreuter's statement "stunningly honest."

But he said after the hearing that college officials need to think more about the financial burden that such investments have on students:

"Apparently there is no policy-making or governance model at the university -- or any university -- that says, 'We should not increase tuition because students shouldn't have to pay more.' And I don't understand why that isn't part of the equation."

The U has been under fire since a Wall Street Journal article suggested last month it was too large and had too many administrators.