UNO hopes new recruitment tool will help shift state’s workforce shortage
OMAHA — A new program announced Tuesday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha aims to attract more students from beyond the state’s borders and ultimately beef up a talent pool to help Nebraska’s labor shortage.
The Omaha Urban Rate Tuition program — called OUR Tuition — is a recruitment tool that UNO officials say will provide many current and prospective students from outside Nebraska with more affordable access to the campus.
Students who reside or recently graduated from high school in one of 11 eligible states will have access to reduced tuition rates. Those states are Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The program is to begin in the fall 2023 semester.
“As an urban metropolitan university, it is our responsibility to explore additional avenues for learners to increase their social mobility — all while working to solve the workforce shortages facing our state,” said Chancellor Joanne Li. “Offering the OUR Tuition rate to students across the region enables out-of-state students to find affordability and opportunity in Nebraska.”
According to UNO, eligible undergraduate students from those 11 states would see their tuition cost drop to as low as $353 per credit hour, depending on the program — which is a reported savings of $385 per credit hour compared to what currently is charged.
Graduate students eligible for the program would see costs as low as $512 per credit hour, depending on the program. That’s a reported savings of $308 per credit hour, UNO officials said.
Students from Nebraska will continue to pay a lower tuition rate than the OUR Tuition students, UNO said.
“UNO’s OUR Tuition rate is often lower than or comparable in price to resident tuition rates charged by public four-year institutions in neighboring states,” said Rich Klein, vice chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness and Student Success. He said the new program provides out-of-staters an incentive to consider UNO.
The new program essentially is a “significant expansion” of UNO’s Metropolitan Advantage Program, which previously offered reduced tuition rates to residents in a dozen counties in western Iowa.
It comes at a time when Nebraska chambers of commerce are lamenting a need for workers. The Husker state is among the five states with the lowest national unemployment rate.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in March that Nebraska in 2022 had the nation’s No. 1 employment-to-population ratio, meaning the state had the highest proportion of employed persons compared to any other state.
“Anyone who wants to work already is,” says a policy statement by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce. It said nearly two jobs are available per job seeker. “The crisis is acute.”