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The Montana University System is projecting increased enrollment and research funding for next year with a proposed budget of $1.7 billion.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved its budget for next year during a Thursday meeting.

Tyler Trevor, deputy commissioner for budget and planning, said the budget increase is due to a few factors, primarily optimism for research and the university system’s ability to obtain funding, $50 million in funding from the state Legislature for capital improvements on buildings and some additional federal COIVD-19 relief money.

Trevor said while the full budget is projected to be a 10% increase — or about $154.8 million — that’s not necessarily what will be seen next year.

“The actual money that we have to spend on educating students, the current unrestricted, is a 2% increase,” he said.

MSU’s budgeted spending is projected to be around $235.5 million, an increase of 1% — or about $3.4 million — from the previous year.

The university system’s revenue from student tuition is projected to increase by 8% — or about $12 million — for next year, in large part due to the tuition increase for out-of-state students.

Resident undergraduate tuition will remain in a tuition freeze for the 2022 fiscal year but will increase by 3% the next year.

Non-resident tuition, which largely subsidizes resident tuition to keep it lower, will increase at Montana State University and the University of Montana by 4% next year, bringing it to $26,087 and $26,112. The following year will see MSU increase its out-of-state tuition by 5%.

The university system has also seen some enrollment increases following last year.

As of Monday, the system saw enrollment was up by about 2.5%, Trevor said. The early numbers have MSU enrollment up by around 3.7% but the official count will not be released until later this month.

During a discussion in Wednesday’s board meeting, Regent Robert Nystuen asked if campuses were going to get accustomed to the one-time federal COVID-19 relief funding.

“Someday those dollars are gone,” he said. “Are we heading to a day of reckoning or struggles?”

Trevor said about half of the federal funding across the university system is for student relief. The rest of the funding is not an increase to the base funds but is to backfill needs the campuses might have from the pandemic.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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