Some of the fastest growing Utah colleges and universities also receive the lowest amount of state funding per student. But this year, the state legislature has set aside $50 million to strike a balance at these institutions and keep costs low for students.
Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Dixie State University and Utah State University regional campuses will all get some of the so-called equity funding.
Utah Valley University is getting the biggest chunk of the money at $21 million. UVU President Matthew Holland says the institution was getting dangerously lean.
“We were grateful for those infusions in the last two years but that just sort of stopped the freefall, and didn’t do anything to fix the problem,” Holland says. “The importance of what happened this year is it really moved substantially towards starting to turn the situation around.”
The amount of money the state of Utah injects into higher education has declined sharply in recent years as a result of the recession. Out-of-pocket costs for students have gone up- and so has enrollment.
Weber State President Charles Wight says the new money will allow his school to hire additional faculty and staff to reduce class sizes, and expand the Dream Weber Scholarship program.
“Students are going to see that Weber State education is going to remain even more affordable than it otherwise would have been and they’re going to get a higher quality educational experience,” Wight says.
Both Utah Valley University and Weber State Presidents say the new money means they’ll hold the line on tuition increases for the next school year.
The Utah Board of Regents will meet later this month to decide on tuition increases system-wide.