Tuition Increases and Fee Hikes at the University of Utah, 1962-1964

By Hunter Thornburg


Aerial view of the ever-growing University of Utah campus in 1960. Captioned “Tomorrow’s Campus From West” in the lower right hand corner. Public domain image, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

It’s no secret that the cost of tuition has been climbing at the University of Utah, usually on an annual basis, voted upon by the Utah State Board of Regents. According to the Utah System of Higher Education website, the Board of Regents is a governing body made up of 17 citizens, appointed by the governor, who control the Utah System of Higher Education.

On November 19, 2007, Community College Week published an article that explained the process by which the Board of Regents decides upon future tuition rates. The final tuition increase is reached by combining first-tier and second-tier tuition rates. First-tier tuition rates are established directly by the Board of Regents, and those rates mainly affect employee compensation, depending on the education budget approved by the Utah State Legislature.

Second-tier rates are organized by Utah’s colleges themselves with the intent to cover all of the institution’s individual costs, if approved by the Board of Regents. When those rates are combined and the final increase is produced, colleges can expect to increase some aspects of tuition by up to 5.4 percent.

One of the more thoroughly covered tuition increases in Utah history took place in 1962. The University of Utah was considering beginning the construction of the Marriott Library, a project that had not been included in the annual budget. The Utes’ athletic department was also deemed somewhat under-funded.

The March 26, 1962, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle contained an article by the Editor-in-Chief, Meg Rampton, regarding the approval of the fee hike. At the time of the approval, no specific uses for the funds were identified. The ASUU Executive Council held no objections toward the increase as long as the funds were used for “maintaining and improving high-quality academic standards.” The council assumed students would be comfortable paying higher fees if they were for that purpose. The fee hike was expected to add $500,000  to the University of Utah budget, and the ASUU Executive Council brought student opinion as far as what the funds should be used for to President A. Ray Olpin’s attention.


President A. Ray Olpin, president of the University of Utah from 1946 to 1964. Olpin led the university during a period of substantial development and evolution. Public domain image, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

According to the article titled “Where Is It Going?” in the March 26, 1962, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle, many opinions were voiced as the U prepared to add half a million dollars to the budget. Many students felt as though the athletic program deserved a new fieldhouse, with new locker rooms, training facilities, and equipment storage. The faculty hoped to see a new library, and student government wanted to see improvements to the University of Utah faculty and classrooms. President Olpin wished to pick an option that would benefit the most students. The university had an obligation to use student funds for the improvement of the academic experience, and to let the students know how the funds were being used.

Months after the approval of the hike, in the June 1, 1962, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle, those responsible for delegating the funds came to a decision. Despite improvements to campus buildings in the past, and the construction of many vital facilities like the Campus Bookstore, Student Health Center, and Music Hall, the University of Utah still struggled in two specific areas, classrooms and faculty. Students attended classes in buildings that had been neglected, in overflowing classrooms. Professors at the university often recognized these low-quality facilities and accepted positions at other universities, making it very difficult to increase the size and quality of the staff. The money from the 1962 tuition hike went directly into the improvement of academic facilities and faculty members.

According to the April 28, 1964, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle, the Board of Regents attempted to build on this tuition hike, but could not agree on a new tuition rate. The board did not want to discourage potential Utes from attending the school because of excessive tuition, and instead increased parking fees and delegated the money toward further campus improvement. In addition to the campus improvement, the board began making room in the budget for the eventual construction of the Marriott Library.

It is important that students are aware of how their money is being used at the university and it is no secret that tuition has increased significantly since 1962. In fact, in March of 2019, the Board of Regents approved a 3.2 percent tuition increase at the University of Utah. These funds will go toward student services, safety programs, and raises for state-financed employees.

Hunter Thornburg is a sophomore at the University of Utah. He is studying communication with an emphasis in journalism, hoping to become a sports journalist.

Primary Sources

“Fee Hike? Only If Needed, Olpin Says,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 15, 1962, 3.

Meg Rampton, “Regents Hike Student Fees,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 26, 1962, 1.

“Where Is It Going?” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 26, 1962, 2.

“West Outlines Reasons For Support of Fee Hike,” Daily Utah Chronicle, June 1, 1962, 4.

Gene Townsend, “Development Director Gives Support To Tuition Increase,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 9, 1964, 1.

“Parking Costs Jump, Tuition Hike Fails In Regents Confab,” Daily Utah Chronicle, April 28,1964, 1.

“Regents Approval Means Utah Tuition Is Headed Upward,” Community College Week, November 19, 2007, 14.

Secondary Sources

Purser, Annalisa. “Truth in Tuition,” @theU, March 18, 2019.

Hernandez, Rocio. “University Of Utah Proposes Tuition Increase To Pay For More Staff, Student Services,” KUER, March 19, 2019.

About the Board,” Utah System of Higher Education.