- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds has proposed a budget that includes a 2.5 percent tuition increase as well as additional money for financial aid, employee salaries and economic development projects.

Bounds unveiled the package for the upcoming fiscal year on Wednesday. The university’s Board of Regents will consider it at its May 25 meeting.

The proposal includes money for the four priorities Bounds identified as key to helping the university stand out among increasing competition: students, research, partnerships and people.

“The University of Nebraska can distinguish itself from the rest of the higher education world by focusing on priorities that matter to our stakeholders,” Bounds said in a statement.

The 2.5 percent tuition increase was formally approved by the regents last June as part of a two-year tuition plan. The increase means Nebraska undergraduate students will pay about $5 more per credit hour, although the university’s tuition and fees are still below the average of Big Ten public institutions.

Bounds’ budget proposal would provide a 2.5 percent increase for need-based financial aid, including Collegebound Nebraska, which promises full tuition coverage for undergraduates who qualify for federal Pell Grants.

In addition, the budget includes $2.5 million for investment in areas where the university can become a national leader. Past investments have advanced the university’s work in engineering, information technology, medical research, agriculture and early childhood education.

It also offers a 2.5 percent increase in the salary pool for non-unionized employees, which will be distributed based on merit, and a $3 million pool to help faculty salaries become more competitive. In recent years, the university has fallen short of the regents’ goal to meet or exceed the average salaries of peer schools.

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