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Regents approve CU tuition hikes

The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted 8-1 Monday to raise tuition at their four campuses for the 2010-11 school year.

Campus of University of Colorado at Boulder
Campus of University of Colorado at Boulder
J. Zubrzycki

Approval was expected, as static state support is forcing all state colleges and universities to raise tuition to fund their budgets. The 2010-11 state budget bill, being considered in the legislature this week, sets a 9 percent ceiling on undergraduate resident tuition increases for next year. The state does not set limits for non-resident and graduate increases.

In-state students – or, in many cases, their parents – on the flagship Boulder campus will see tuition bills climb 9 percent.

Junior Emily Wieder’s eyes rolled when she learned of the increase while sending a text message during a break from work and school at the University Memorial Center on the Boulder campus. She’s relying almost exclusively on loans to cover her tuition since her parents make too much money for her to qualify for scholarships. She has to pay the interest on the loans when she gets out of school with a psychology degree, which she estimates will cost $50,000 when tuition, fees and housing are combined.

She works 30 hours a week managing an ice cream parlor in addition to being a full-time student. She even finds time twice a week to visit her family in Arvada.

“It’s really difficult,” said Wieder, 20. “My brother is just going to school next year, too.”

“It’s unfortunate. Now you need another degree besides a high school degree. You have to have a college degree or some technical degree. With the rising costs, I don’t know how many people will be able to afford it.”

Senior Byron Boon, 22, of Boulder, is irritated when he sees beautiful new buildings, such as a new student center on the Boulder campus, rising up at the same time tuition is going sky high.

“I’m not even going to be here to use them,” Boon said. “I don’t feel they should be raising tuition for people who aren’t going to be able to use the new facilities.”

He said the $300 or $400 increase in his tuition bill isn’t small change.

“For my family, it’s a pretty big deal,” he said.

Next year’s hike at CU, and the increases expected to follow at other institutions, follow a long-term state and national trend that has seen larger and larger shares of college costs shift from taxpayers to parents and students.

The regents are the first board to take action this spring on 2010-11 tuition.

The percentage increases approved by the regents include:

Boulder: 9 resident undergraduate, 5 percent non-resident, 9 percent resident graduate and 3 percent non-resident graduate. (The new resident undergraduate tuition will be $7,018, up $572.) Law school increases are higher, in the double digits.

Denver: 9 percent resident undergraduate, 2 percent non-resident undergraduate, 3 resident graduate and unchanged for non-resident graduate. (The new tuition will be $6,216 for lower-division residents, up $594.)

Colorado Springs: 7.2 percent resident undergraduate, 2 percent non-resident, 7 percent resident graduate and 2 percent non-resident graduate. (The new tuition will be $6,270, up $420, for lower-division residents.)

Anschutz Medical Campus: 6.5 percent resident medicine, 8.8 percent nursing, 9 percent dentistry and 3 percent pharmacy. Tuition wil be $28,207 for resident medical students.) Rate increases for non-residents and various specialized programs vary.

Chair Tom Bosley speaks during CU Board of Regents meeting March 29, 2010. President Bruce Benson is at left.
Chair Tom Bosley speaks during CU Board of Regents meeting March 29, 2010. President Bruce Benson is at left.

Non-resident tuition generally is higher than resident, but instititions typically vary non-resident increases year to year in an effort to balance the need for extra revenue with the risk of discouraging out-of-state students by raising costs too quickly. Even if the percentages are lower, the dollar amounts of non-resident increases are higher than for residents.

Lame-duck Regent Tom Lucero, R-4th District, was the only no vote. A critic of tuition increases in the past, Lucero said Monday he disagreed with making the decision at this time. He said regents’ policies call for tuition to be set after the annual state appropriations bill is passed. (That bill is only beginning its trek through the legislature this week.)

Regent Monisha Merchant, D-7th District, said an early decision helps incoming students who must decide by May 1 if they want to accept admission.

In contrast, the Colorado State University System Board of Governors won’t receive budget and tuition proposals until its May 5 meeting and won’t vote until June.

Several regents who did vote yes expressed their unhappiness with the decision. Regent James Geddes, R-6th District, said he likely won’t support a tuition increase at this time next year.

CU offiicials estimate the increases will raise an additional $31 million in revenue, covering only about 20 percent of the loss in state per-student funding The regents previously approved $29 million in budget cuts, with another $21 million to be announced shortly. Still, officials estimate the CU system may face an additional shortfall of $51.2 million at this time next year, when the 2011-12 budget is being finalized. About 200 positions have been eliminated.

Overall, CU tuition is the second highest in the state, exceeded only by the School of Mines. Kelly Fox, CU vice president for finance, noted that state per-student support at CU has dropped from about $8,400 in 1979 to about $2,800 now. She said CU’s tuition remains lower than the cost of comparable state institutions around the nation.

She also said that total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees and living expenses, is increasing at a lower rate. She pegged that increases at 4 percent ($995) in Boulder, 4.5 percent ($1,007) in Denver and 3 percent ($628) in Colorado Springs.

· Text of resolution approved by the regents and tables listing tuition changes

EdNews reporter Julie Poppen contributed to this article.

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