LINCOLN -- UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman on Friday proposed adding $50 per credit hour additional tuition charge for students in the College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering.
"I think differential tuition is consistent with our two priorities, undergraduate education and research," Perlman told the University of Nebraska Board of Regents Friday.
University of Nebraska policy gives the NU President J.B. Milliken, not the regents, authority to approve the tuition boost for the two colleges. Milliken said he likely will approve the change in time for it be included as a component of the budget proposal to be considered by the board in June.
The program will be the first time that the University of Nebraska has charged different tuition rates for undergraduate academic programs. However, it has been a fast-growing trend nationally, particularly in the last five to seven years as public universities have responded to reduced state funding. A recent study shows 57 percent of public research universities charge higher tuition for some undergraduate programs than for others.
All of the Big Ten institutions presently charge more tuition for engineering and business classes than they do other courses.
Milliken said higher tuition to cover the higher instructional costs of business and engineering classes means other students will not have to pay those costs with a that-much bigger tuition boost when the Regents approve next year's budget in June.
Milliken declined to reveal how much general tuition might increase next year, but noted that it will be similar to the increases of the past six years, which have ranged from 4 percent to 6 percent.
Perlman said that engineering and business were selected for differential tuition rates because of their importance to Nebraska's economy, their crucial role to the development of the Innovation Campus, and to their role in making UNL a competitive member of the Big Ten conference.
The Innovation Campus is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's fledgling research park, planned for the former state fairgrounds in Lincoln.
Perlman pledged that the additional revenue would be used to improve the instructional programs in the two colleges.
Regents said they were supportive of the proposal, although they expressed some concerns about it.
Regent Randy Ferlic said he was concerned that it would drive some students away from the more expensive programs.
"Shouldn't we be reversing this and making it lower tuition for what some might think would be more desirable for the business environment in Nebraska -- more engineers and more business?" he asked.
"There is a balance between access and quality," said Perlman. "We've got to provide a competitive quality. Nebraska doesn't just need more engineers, it needs more and better engineers."
Hassebrook -- whose son is an engineering major -- noted that when combined with an existing $40 per credit hour fee, engineering students will pay 45 percent more per credit hour than other students.
Perlman noted that engineering students' total cost increase will be less than that. The additional tuition and fees apply only to engineering courses -- not to the courses in other disciplines that engineering students are required to take.
He also noted that NU's College Bound program pays all tuition costs of low-income students who are eligible for federal Pell Grant assistance, including the differential tuition rate for engineering and business.