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Idaho University of Idaho Tuition and Fees, SJR 101 (2010)

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The Idaho Tuition and Fees Amendment, also known as SJR 101, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Idaho as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure repealed a ban enacted by a 1890 constitutional provision that bars tuition at the University of Idaho. The University of Idaho was allowed to cease charging "fees" that were approximately the equivalent to "tuition" that was implemented by other state schools.

According to Senate Assistant Republican Leader Joe Stegner (R-7), who authored the constitutional amendment: "We've been doing this for 120 years. And everybody, with a wink-wink, nod-nod has been calling them 'fees.'"[1] The fees that were imposed by the University of Idaho cannot be used for instructional purposes. Bart Davis, Senate GOP leader, stated about the fees: "It puts the (U of I) in a very difficult spot of having to do mathematical gymnastics." Once enacted, the measure went into effect for the 2011 fall semester.[2]

Election results

Idaho SJR 101 (2010)
Approveda Yes 279,317 64.06%

Election results via: Idaho Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The question appeared on the ballot as:[3]

Shall Section 10, Article IX, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended to permit the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho to impose rates of tuition and fees on all students enrolled in the University of Idaho as authorized by law?[4]


The ballot summary read as:[5]

This proposed amendment will clarify that the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho may charge students tuition, as authorized by law. Currently, the University of Idaho charges student fees to undergraduate students, but not tuition. Student fees cannot be used to pay for classroom instruction. All of the other state-supported colleges and universities in Idaho have the authority to charge tuition, and this amendment specifies that the University of Idaho will have the same authority.

Constitutional changes

The measure amended Section 10, Article IX of the Idaho Constitution to read as follows:[3][6]

Section 10. State University - Location, Regents, and Lands
State University Location, Regents, Tuition, Fees and Lands. The location of the University of Idaho, as established by existing laws, is hereby confirmed. All the rights, immunities, franchises, and endowments, heretofore granted thereto by the territory of Idaho are hereby perpetuated unto the said university. The regents shall have the general supervision of the university, and the control and direction of all the funds of, and appropriations to, the university, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law. The regents may impose rates of tuition and fees on all students enrolled in the university as authorized by law. No university lands shall be sold for less than ten dollars per acre, and in subdivisions not to exceed one hundred and sixty acres, to any one person, company or corporation.




  • Instead of tuition, the university charged fees that summed up to about $2,500 per semester. Those fees paid for activities and other facilities, but not classroom instruction. University leaders such as Marty Peterson, special assistant to the president of the University of Idaho, stated that this puts the university in a difficult position. Peterson argued, "At a time in the last two years when we've had our state support for higher education reduced by 20 percent we need every arrow we can get in our quiver to help manage our financial resources in the best possible way."[2]

The following arguments are the official arguments for the proposed amendment found on the Idaho Secretary of State's website:[5]

  • Amendment will allow the University of Idaho to charge tuition, which can be used to pay for classroom instruction.
  • Amendment will not establish any rates of tuition or fees. The job of determining rates of tuition will still be the responsibility of the State Board of Education.
  • Amendment allows the state's higher education institutions that are supported by the state the authority to charge tuition.



The following arguments are the official arguments against the proposed amendment found on the Idaho Secretary of State's website:[5]

  • The U of I is the state's land-grant university and predates statehood. Constitution framers wanted free education for undergraduate students attending the university. That historic precedent shouldn't be altered.
  • Instead of changing the state's constitution, additional funding by the state could be used to cover the costs of classroom instruction.
  • Constitution changes should be made only for major issues in the state or in a crisis.

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Idaho ballot measures, 2010


  • Idaho Statesman said, "This amendment would allow the University of Idaho to charge tuition, which is now allowed at other Idaho universities. (The U of I levies fees that are comparable to the other schools, but none of this money can go into academics.) This amendment gives a cash-strapped U of I budgeting flexibility, and that makes sense."[8]

Path to the ballot

The first reading of the measure took place in the Idaho State Senate on February 13, 2009. The Senate then passed the measure to the Idaho House of Representatives with a vote of 32-2 on March 3, 2010. The proposed measure was then read for the first time in the House on March 4, 2010, with the House eventually approving the measure on April 8, 2009, with a vote of 64-3.[9]

In Idaho, legislature can send an amendment to the ballot if that proposed amendment is agreed to by two-thirds of the members of both the Idaho State Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives. If this is done, the proposed amendment goes on the next general election ballot.

See also

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Additional reading