Two letters about tuition at the University of Minnesota

$17 per gallon -- if it were like tuition? (quite peculiar via Flickr)
$17 per gallon -- if it were like tuition? (quite peculiar via Flickr)

As you may have gathered from posts I've put up recently, the affordability of an education -- especially at the University of Minnesota -- is on a lot of people's minds.

Here are a couple of comments posted on the subject.

One is from Krista Finstad Hanson, a U alumna. She said she wrote it to President Eric Kaler in January. I asked the U for a response last week, and will post that if I get one. The letter is lightly edited.

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Dear President Kaler,

The University of Minnesota is really important to me. My husband and I are both alumni. I support the College of Education & Human Development (CEHD) scholarship fund annually. In addition we have 10 & 12 year old children we hope to send to the U of M if we can afford it! I am a teacher and my husband is a state employee. We have been saving for college since they were born. At present we have saved enough to pay for one year per kid at current prices, and yet we fear what the prices will be when our eldest graduates from high school in 6 years.

Affordability is a huge issue! Please tell the truth about per credit prices and fees!

I am a teacher and last year spent about $1600 on 4 graduate Education credits to keep my teaching license current. The tuition cost for 4 credits was around $1200 with an additional $400 in fees! This reality isn't found out until you actually pay for your class. I had to pay a stadium fee, a transportation fee, and etc.... and my class was 100% online. I didn't set foot on campus. This is not right.

In addition when the U of M advertises what a semester's worth of classes cost for an undergraduate, it is estimated that it's $6030 per semester, which would be more than $12,000 per year. However, there will be fees tacked on to that and you can look at those tuition and fee charts online until your eyes cross, but you won't truly know what you're paying until you register. This is not including housing and meal plan costs. This is also not including books and materials. Additionally nearly every different department or "school" at the U charges different per credit fees and additional fees.

Please be honest and tell the truth about the total price it will cost to attend the U of M as an undergraduate or a graduate student. Then please do everything in your power to lower those amounts.

Current, federal, Stafford loan limits are $31,000 lifetime limit for a dependent, undergraduate student. At a minimum of $12,000 per year times a minimum of 4 years, that adds up to $48,000 for an undergraduate degree. That means every student will need to come up with cash or private student loans, as well as hope for scholarships and grants to make up the difference that the subsidized, federal Stafford loan won't cover. Conversations with my friends who have college-age kids who are students at the U of M now say it's an easy $20,000 a year to attend the U of M per year with housing and meals included. OK, now we're talking $80,000 for a 4 year degree at the U of M. Did I mention that I am a teacher and my husband is a state employee? That is not even close to what we make each year combined.

Working on fixing the affordability issue is huge, enormous, and tremendously important. I am already hearing colleagues and friends with college-age students talking about sending their kids to college in Manitoba or North Dakota, which both have reciprocity, as it's much more affordable. North Dakota and Canada both are paying their fair share to support (OK, subsidize) their public university systems so the cost to students is much lower.

I want to have a strong, exemplary state university where I can afford to send my children! I think our state government needs to up the ante and get back to their previous funding ratios that made the U of M affordable when my husband and I attended in the early 1990s. But I know the U of M has some cost cutting and streamlining that can surely continue.

Thank you for your time to read this.


Krista Finstad Hanson

M.Ed, class of 1997


The second is from Robert Gyurci of Bloomington. It made "Letter of the Day" in today's Star Tribune.

I can't vouch for the math, but here it is:

Based on the percentage increase of the University of Minnesota tuition in 1960 ($213) to the frozen amount of $12,000 today: • A full size Chevrolet would cost $156,000 and gas for it $17 a gallon. • A starter home in Bloomington would be in the $840,000 range, and your young child’s school lunch $25. • The starting wage for an entry-level job for a college graduate would be in the $200,000 range. The minimum wage in 1960 was $1 per hour. I attended a Minnesota private college in 1960, and tuition was twice as much as the University of Minnesota. The tuition this fall will be $35,000. Is today’s tuition for college-bound youth equitable? You decide. Robert Gyurci, Bloomington