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Montana In-state Undergraduate Tuition Costs Freeze For A Year, Fees To Rise

The sun sets behind Montana State University's sculpture of Spirit, the school's mascot, April 2019.
Rachel Cramer
Yellowstone Public Radio
The sun sets behind Montana State University's sculpture of Spirit, the school's mascot, April 2019.

The Montana University System is freezing in-state undergraduate tuition during the coming school year, and raising it the year after.

Montana has the third-lowest four-year tuition costs of western states, about $2,000 per year below average, according to Montana University System data.

Deputy Commissioner Tyler Trevor says regular tuition freezes have made the state’s flagship public schools more competitive with other western colleges in recent years.

“We’ve moved that dial all the way back to below the average where we want to be. More affordable,” Trevor said.

University of Montana and Montana State University tuition for in-state undergraduates is about $7,500 per year. Students living on campus and eating in dining halls pay nearly $19,000 per year, with fees.

Montana’s flagship schools become more expensive than average regional colleges with room, board and fees included.

UM and MSU mandatory fees are rising 2% to 3% in fiscal year 2022 that begins this July, under the budget approved by the Board of Regents on Wednesday.

Resident undergraduate tuition also jumps 3% at public four-year schools in fiscal year 2023.

Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says the tuition increase is generally in line with inflation.

Montana university tuition costs rose in the 1990s and early 2000s as state higher education funding waned. The university system started freezing tuition nearly every year after 2006 as the Legislature boosted university funding to make up the difference.

“Where we’ve gained most of the revenue advantage has been through state support and leveraging nonresident tuition as best we can,” said Commissioner Christian.

Nonresident undergraduate tuition is set to rise 4% to 5% at UM and MSU over the next two school years.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America statehouse reporter.