The University of Nebraska system will freeze tuition rates in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years to remain affordable and keep prices predictable, NU President Ted Carter said Thursday.

The coronavirus situation threatens to lower enrollments nationwide because of families’ financial hardships and uncertainty about what fall semester will look like. The widespread online courses this spring don’t match the on-campus experience, Carter said. The NU system has announced its intentions to provide classes and programs on campus in the fall.

Carter said freezing tuition for two years gives students and families an assurance of what tuition will cost. Tuition for the 2020-21 school year already had been raised by 2.75%, he said. That increase will remain in place.

“We’re going to be affordable and accessible for all Nebraskans,” he said. Carter previously announced a new program called “Nebraska Promise,” in which in-state students don’t have to pay tuition if their family’s income is less than $60,000.

Carter said to those asking how NU can afford these initiatives: “We can’t afford not to do this.”

The freeze doesn’t apply to student fees, which are a bundle of miscellaneous costs for various programs and services. Nor does it apply to room and board.

The freeze applies to undergraduates and graduate students, Nebraskans, out-of-staters and international students. He said the last time NU froze tuition for all students for two years was in 1974 and 1975. An NU spokeswoman said tuition was frozen for Nebraskans alone in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Resident tuition for 15 credit hours (a full load for a semester) in the fall will be $3,135 for the University of Nebraska at Kearney, $3,525 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and $3,885 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He said UNL already offers the lowest tuition among Big Ten schools. The Big Ten is the sports conference in which UNL competes and includes Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern.

He said his goal for the system is to retain or achieve three aspirations — affordability; excellent health, mental health and security on campus; and to provide good job prospects for graduates and employers.

“Come to Nebraska,” he said. “Stay in Nebraska.”

Carter reiterated that the NU system, with institutions in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, expects to offer on-campus classes and programs in the fall. If it makes more sense to provide certain courses online, he said, NU will do so.

The decision to offer courses on campus will rely on science, data, logic and a 19-page checklist provided by the NU Medical Center, he said. Administrators intend to spread students out in dormitories, have widespread disease testing available, retain current information on illnesses, he said, and hope that college sports get the nod from authorities.

Carter said he is optimistic that sports will take place in the fall. But he said he doesn’t expect to be the one to make that call.

rick.ruggles@owh.com, 402-444-1123

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