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Utah’s Top College Officials Haven’t Been Looking Very Closely At Rising Tuition Costs, Audit Finds

Photo of U of U campus. / desertsolitaire

Utah’s Board of Regents is being asked by state auditors to be more rigorous in the way its members approve tuition increases at colleges statewide.

The Board of Regents oversees all state-run college institutions and is responsible for approving requests for tuition increases each year.

On Monday, auditors briefed state lawmakers on the Board of Regents’ process for approval, which according to the report, isn’t much of a process at all.

In fact, House Majority Leader Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) said the findings from this audit were some of the worst he’s ever seen.

“I truthfully can’t understand what the regents do when they approve these tuition increases,” Wilson said during Monday’s subcommittee meeting.

The audit showed that the Board of Regents rarely, if ever, pushes back on any tuition increases. Tuition has climbed by over $130 million in the past five years for students statewide.

Higher Education Commissioner Dave Buhler was there to take the brunt of the criticism on behalf of the Board of Regents. He said $130 million can seem like a lot, but as far as percentage, tuition increases have been slowing down.

Buhler agreed, however, with the lawmakers that the Board of Regents should do more to scrutinize tuition increases. He said among other changes, he’ll be adding an extra day next March to its annual tuition review.

“So there’s time for each [university] president to make the case for the tuition increase that they need and plenty of time for the board of regents to discuss,” Buhler said.

Buhler expects university presidents and the Board of Regents will welcome this meeting to clearly lay out why the costs for students needs to rise.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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