Supporters say Idaho measure would add flexibility to UI

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October 14, 2010

BOISE, Idaho: The University of Idaho doesn't charge tuition to its students, but does, however, charge fees that could amount to $2,500 a semester. This could all change if voters pass an amendment this November. The measure would repeal a ban enacted by a 1890 constitutional provision that bars tuition at the University of Idaho. If enacted by Idaho voters, the University of Idaho would cease charging "fees" that are approximately the equivalent to "tuition" that is implemented by other state schools.

The fees that are imposed cannot be used for instructional purposes, therefore, according to Marty Peterson, special assistant to the president of the University of Idaho, 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.

However, opponents argue that The U of I is the state's land-grant university and predates statehood, and that Constitution framers wanted free education for undergraduate students attending the university. According to them, that historic precedent shouldn't be altered.

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