ANCHORAGE - Tuition at University of Alaska campuses will continue rising for at least the next two school years, according to a unanimous board of regents decision Wednesday.
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The board approved two consecutive increases of 5 percent starting next fall.
"Past increases have been 10 percent year after year," regent Kirk Wickersham said. "We wanted to offer the consumers - the students - a little relief."
Once the fall 2009 increase takes effect, tuition for undergraduate resident students will have increased by about 72 percent since 2003, according to the university's statistics.
Tuition increases have been necessary to cover increasing utility costs and expanding programs, said university president Mark Hamilton.
The university expects to collect about $97.3 million from tuition during fiscal year 2009, but that only makes up a portion of its requested $783.3 million operating budget, said university spokeswoman Kate Ripley.
The remaining budget is filled out by grants, state funding and other contributions, she said.
Health care and oil industry programs have grown, Ripley said. More than 100 new degree and certificate programs have been added in the past decade as well, she said, and financial aid has also been an expanding priority.
"There's been a big push to increase needs-based aid," Ripley said. "The level of needs-based aid that we have compared to other states is almost embarrassing."
John Roberson III, the student government president in Anchorage, said he didn't entirely support the increase, but it was the best option on the table and is better than those of past years.
"I think the decision the university made is fair," he said. "Among the options given, the 5 percent was the best one."