UH regents OK tuition hike

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Students at Hawaii Community College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo will see modest tuition hikes in coming years.

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Students at Hawaii Community College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo will see modest tuition hikes in coming years.

The UH Board of Regents on Thursday approved a three-year plan that starts in the 2017-18 school year and caps increases at 2 percent systemwide.

Under the plan, students at every campus will see no increase in the first year. The second and third year, HCC resident students will pay 2 percent more each year. UH-Hilo resident students will see 1 percent annual increases in the second and third years, equating to $72 more each year.

The new tuition plan is nearly the same as one proposed earlier this year, though the board amended it slightly Thursday so UH-Manoa students also will pay no increase in the first year. Previously, Manoa students were set to pay 2 percent more that year.

UH officials previously said they hoped students would welcome the plan’s relatively modest increases. They said affordable tuition would also help attract more students to the UH system, which has faced declining enrollment in recent years at nearly every campus.

However in April, when officials introduced the tuition plan during a town hall meeting at HCC, some students testified in opposition.

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said Thursday officials are “doing everything they can to keep the costs down.” He said UH campuses remain a bargain in comparison to similar institutions nationwide.

For example, he said, Hawaii’s community colleges ranked No. 1 in the country in a 2016 report of college affordability by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. The state’s public four-year colleges ranked No. 7 on the same report.

“Compared to the rest of the nation, our community colleges are a great deal,” Meisenzahl said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to keep costs down.”

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For a detailed breakdown, visit tinyurl.com/UHTuition.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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