Interview: Rep. Oversen Says University Needs Scrutiny On Tuition Increases


Rep. Kylie Oversen has introduced HB1328 which would freeze tuition at all institutions in the North Dakota University System at 2013 levels for two years. The university system, however, is questioning the legislature’s legal authority to control tuition.

I interviewed Re. Oversen about her bill yesterday:

It was originally reported that Rep. Oversen’s bill would include a $25 million appropriation to replace revenues lost from potential tuition increases, but she noted that dollar figure is still in flux because of other pending changes to the funding models for the universities.

Chancellor Hamid Shirvani has said that a tuition cap wouldn’t be legal, suggesting in a committee hearing on Rep. Oversen’s bill that it “erodes constitutional authority.” I asked Rep. Oversen about that, and she said it’s “something we’ve done before.”

“We have both frozen at the two-years and capped at the four-years for the past four years,” Oversen told me referring to other tuition controls the legislature has put in place. “If that’s the question it should have been challenged in the past”

I also asked Rep. Oversen about tuition increases in the context of dramatic increases in state funding for the universities. If Governor Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget recommendations go through, the university system will have seen a 150% increase in funding from 2003 through the next biennium.

“That’s a great question,” Rep. Oversen told me. “The higher ed budget is complicated, and I thin there are probably areas we can reduce spending or at least hold spending even and be more efficient in our expenditure of dollars.”