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The state Board of Higher Education voted Thursday to increase tuition rates at all 11 public colleges and universities in North Dakota.

Board members also began the difficult task of determining how to redistribute to campuses about $4.3 million that earlier had been removed from their budgets.

Campus presidents disagree on the best way to do it.

You won't ever get consensus from the group, said Donna Thigpen, president of Bismarck State College. My position, and probably that of every other president here, is: `Give me as much money as you can without doing any more harm to the other folks.'

A tuition increase passed unanimously with little discussion. The increase was expected and had been factored in to the $1 billion budget the Legislature approved for the university system.

Students at the UND and North Dakota State University will see the biggest change. Rates for undergraduate students who live in the state will rise 5 percent, from about $2,300 annually to about $2,480 annually next term.

At Minot State University, tuition will rise 4.6 percent for resident undergraduates, from $1,960 to $2,050 per year.

Students at Dickinson State, Mayville State and Valley City State will pay about 4 percent more, and those at the state's five two-year public institutions will pay about 2.6 percent more.

Diane Lochner, president of the North Dakota Student Association, told the board students generally supported the increased tuition because we recognize the fundamental importance of a quality education.

But she said students are disappointed that the state's share of funding for higher education did not increase as much as that of students.

Student tuition increases were supported with the expectation that the state's investment would also increase substantially, she said.

The board in March also approved increases in room, board and fees, which average about 4 percent for the 1999-2000 school year.

A more contentious issue Thursday was how the board intends to redistribute the $4.3 million taken from campus budgets.

Lawmakers restored the funding, but pooled it, directing the board of higher education to use it to address funding inequities among the campuses and for special academic programs.

The college presidents all said they want the entire sum to be used to address equity, but disagreed on which of six formulas offered would be best.

The rate of reimbursement for the institutions would vary dramatically, depending on which formula the board would eventually choose, said Laura Glatt, the university system's vice president for administrative affairs.

This is a very, very major decision, and it's going to take a lot of thought, board President Jack Hoeven said. It's an extremely complicated issue and all of us are going to have to take some time to consider which option is best.

The board is expected to discuss issue at a meeting in May.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, April 30, 1999