Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
This week, I announced a joint compact between the University of Nebraska and Nebraska State College System that would help ensure continued affordable access to higher education for Nebraska students and families. This compact will allow for a two year tuition freeze. A state investment in higher education would help ensure a strong University of Nebraska and Nebraska State College System.
In Nebraska, we understand that education is the great equalizer and that’s why it is a priority for me. Investing in education is important to Nebraska’s future. It is also critical that our postsecondary institutions manage their resources efficiently to control costs.
Under the agreement, my proposed two-year budget includes the funding that would be necessary for the university and state colleges to freeze tuition for Nebraska students for two years. I will be recommending that the University of Nebraska’s state appropriations increase from its current level of $498 million to $541 million in fiscal year 2015, and that the Nebraska State College System’s funding increase from $45.5 million to $49.6 million in fiscal year 2015.
If the Legislature agrees to the funding recommendations, the university and state colleges have agreed that they will freeze tuition for resident Nebraska students attending UNL, UNK, UNO, UNMC, Chadron State, Wayne State and Peru State for 2013-14 and 2014-15.
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken said: “State support is crucial to sustaining the priorities of a great University of Nebraska system – including affordable access to high-quality education. The investment recommended by the Governor will put us in a strong position to continue to serve Nebraskans, and I am grateful for his leadership in recognizing the important role higher education plays in economic competitiveness. I look forward to discussing the affordability compact with members of the Legislature and others.”
For several weeks, President Milliken and I worked together to develop the affordability compact proposal. Once details were completed, I contacted Chancellor Carpenter about a similar compact at Nebraska’s state colleges. Chancellor Carpenter agreed.
“I readily agreed with the idea of a compact that would provide the NSCS with an appropriation level that would allow us to freeze tuition,” said Chancellor Carpenter. “It is good for our students; it is good for our colleges; and it is good for Nebraska. Our student body at the State Colleges will save over $1 million the first year when compared to an average tuition increase. Students can graduate on time with less debt. This compact with the State is an important step in assuring that our three colleges can continue to provide thousands of opportunities.”
We know that a college education is a major investment for families, and it is one of the best investment they could make. Most jobs in Nebraska require a postsecondary education. If we are to meet Nebraska’s workforce needs, and ensure a stronger economy, we need more college graduates. The way to accomplish that is to keep higher education costs affordable and accessible.