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The Price of Greatness?

"The more I learn, the less I know, I think," said Regent John Frobenius after looking at the pricing, deductions and comparisons for graduate and professional programs.

Our alum, Jenna Ross, has a Strib article about grad school:


What price grad school at the U?

How much does a graduate student pay for a degree at the University of Minnesota? It's complicated, regents learn as they review new data.

Tuition for University of Minnesota graduate and professional students ranks in the middle to high range compared with the University of California-Berkeley, Penn State and other "peer" institutions. The price that in-state dentistry students pay tops the list. The average U medical student graduated with $137,268 in debt from that degree alone in 2008.

The new data were presented to the U's Board of Regents Thursday.

Graduate and professional students got support from a few regents in raising alarms earlier this year when undergrad tuition hikes were kept to a few percentage points, but theirs were not. Administrators promised numbers about how these students fund their degrees.

"The more I learn, the less I know, I think,"
said Regent John Frobenius after looking at the pricing, deductions and comparisons for graduate and professional programs.

Frobenius had expressed deep concern about tuition hikes for graduate and professional students last spring, and eventually voted against the budget when his motion to reduce the increases failed. He joined other regents Thursday in emphasizing how important it is that the university keep tuition for these students affordable and competitive -- yet high enough to maintain quality.

"The programs described in these documents are the unique mission of the University of Minnesota," he said. "If we don't do this superbly well, the state of Minnesota will suffer drastically."

About 800 students are enrolled in the university's M.D. program, which last year cost in-state students $32,360 in tuition and fees -- the second-highest among the university's 11 comparable institutions that offer degrees in medicine. The University of Wisconsin charged $23,102 for its residents last year.

At their meeting Thursday, regents discussed how that much debt affects students' career choices.

"If people are driven to high-end procedures and fields because they can pay off their debt and live, that drives up the cost of health care," said Regent Dr. Patricia Simmons, calling it an issue "we can help the state and the nation try to address."

The report also emphasizes that some programs are particularly expensive to run, and students are asked to pay a small portion of that cost.

"Medicine is a case in point," the report reads. "Tuition for M.D. students is higher than for most other programs, but the tuition that M.D. students pay covers a smaller percentage of the cost of their education (i.e., less than 25 percent) ..."

Provost Tom Sullivan pointed out that tuition also sends a message to prospective students about the quality of a program.

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