LINCOLN–(KFOR June 20)–University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Thursday approved of a 2024-25 operating budget totaling $1.1 billion, as well as a 3.5% tuition increase, on a 7-2 vote.

Beaver City Regent Kathy Wilmot, who was one of the two opposing votes, voted against the budget because of the increase in the tuition rate.

“The families have already chipped in because they are paying the taxes and things that we turn to the Legislature and everybody for,” Wilmot said. “And then when we ask those students from those families to chip in again, I feel like that’s somewhat of a double-hit.”

Wilmot said she would have supported an increase but at a lower rate.

Interim University of Nebraska president and chief financial officer Chris Kabourek said because of rising expenses and muted revenues, the university system would have been left with expenses going to be $17-million more. But he says they intend to manage that money in two ways. That includes $11.5 million in permanent spending cuts over the next fiscal year, which will be shared across all the campuses, including the office of the president. These follow nearly $30 million in cuts that have been made over the past two years.

“Now cuts are never easy. They always look reasonable on paper until you have to sit across the table, which I had to do many times and look a really important employee in the face and tell them they no longer have a job because we just cannot afford it,” Kabourek said.

Second, the Board will not allocate funds for inflation.

The Board approved a tuition increase of $1.29 per day or $135 per semester for a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, $120 per semester for a student at the University of Nebraska Omaha and $1 per day or $105 per semester for a student at University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Kabourek said with the approved budget, they will be able to invest $1.5 million to expand the Presidential Scholars Program to an annual cohort of 50 students. Finally, $1.5 million will be available for President-Elect Dr. Jeffrey Gold to invest in priorities of his choosing.

Dr. Gold will move into his new role on July 1.