Idaho universities, colleges freeze tuition increases for 2020

Idaho universities, colleges freeze tuition increases for 2020
Wikimedia Commons

Several Idaho colleges and universities have enacted a tuition freeze, preventing rates from increasing for students.

University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, Boise State University and Idaho State University announced Thursday that they will no longer increase tuition for resident undergraduate students in 2020.

This follows a plea made in Spring 2019, where Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield urged Idaho educational institutions to stop increasing tuition rates as often as they had.

“Our number one priority is holding down tuition costs, while still providing quality education and support students need to stay on campus and graduate,” said Critchfield.

In the announcement, Critchfield reported that forty years ago, state funding covered 88 percent of colleges’ costs to operate, whereas 7 percent came from tuition revenue. Today, however, the percentages are nearly even – with state funding covering 51 percent to tuition revenue’s 47 percent.

According to Critchfield, state general fund support has declined over the decades, making the tuition hikes a necessity just to maintain the balance. State appropriations for higher education dropped from 17 percent in 1980 to under 8 percent in 2019.

Part of the reason for this, she says, is the 2008 recession – the restoration of funding for K-12 education has only recently begun, and higher education is still in the queue for such funding.

“This conversation can’t be just about lowering or freezing tuition,” says Critchfield, “It must include creative strategies for a sustainable funding model that moves students and Idaho forward.”

The process will not be without its trials and tribulations – Critchfield reports that the Board of Education, along with the institutions involved, worked to prioritize programs, restructure operations and cut costs.

Considering that Idaho’s public colleges and universities generate over $3.3 billion in gross state product every year, though, the Board believes that this decision will make finances on their students easier, and life in Idaho far better.

You can read Idaho State University’s release here, and the Board of Education’s release here.