Colorado

CSU targets credit hours in tuition plan

Updated Oct. 4 – The Colorado State University system is proposing to raise tuition in 2011-12 by requiring some students to take more credit hours to qualify as full time. The university also is studying variable tuition rates for different kinds of programs.

Those are the key elements of the tuition flexibility planned filed by the system with the state Department of Higher Education last Friday. Education New Colorado reviewed the CSU plan on Monday.

All state colleges and universities except the Colorado School of Mines filed plans, which will be reviewed by department staff and then the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Colorado college campus montage
From left, the campuses of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Auraria Higher Education Center.

A new state law allows colleges to raise tuition up to 9 percent a year for each of the next five years without state approval. Institutions that feel they need larger increases may apply to CCHE for permission – those were the documents submitted Friday. Proposals also must include plans for protecting affordability and access for lower- and middle-income students. (See this story for additional background on the process.)

At the Fort Collins campus, CSU proposes to change the definition of full-time for undergraduates from 10 to 12 credit hours, which the plan says “which would translate to an additional $525 in tuition per semester. Students taking 10 or fewer credit hours will not experience an increase in their tuition.” (Read the CSU proposal here.)

In Pueblo, the university proposes to raise tuition rates for students taking 13 to 18 credit hours, rates that currently are discounted. “A typical student taking 15 credit hours would experience an increase of $380 per semester and if taking 18 credit hours an increase of $586,” the document says.

The 16-page CSU application assumes specific levels of state support in 2011-12 and warns that tuition may have to go higher if state funding doesn’t meet those levels. The document also notes, “If granted additional flexibility, resident tuition rates at CSU and CSU-Pueblo still will be nearly 20 percent lower than tuition rates at Colorado’s other research institutions.”

On the issue of financial aid, the CSU proposal references the Commitment to Colorado plan announced last summer, under which resident students working towards their first bachelor’s degree and whose families make $57,000 or less pay only half the standard tuition rate. Students from lower-income families who are eligible for Pell grants will not pay any tuition or fees to attend CSU (more details in this story).

The 12-page plan filed by the University of Colorado System includes a modest 9.5 percent proposed increase for resident undergraduate students in 2011-12, only half a percent above what the system could set without state approval. The plan includes raises “up to 9 percent” for school years 2012-13 through 2015-16. (That’s the year when the flexibility program ends.)

Although the CU proposal doesn’t appear to suggest new and different financial aid plans for lower- and middle-income students, the document discusses in detail its existing financial aid programs, saying, “The historic commitment that CU has made to institutional financial aid will continue.” The plan says part of increased revenue from tuition would be devoted to financial aid. (Read the CU proposal.)

The two plans and all the others are considered “working” documents subject to discussion and refinement. So, tuition increases made in the proposals won’t necessarily be what college boards actually approve next spring.

The CSU document takes care to stress that, saying, “This Financial Accountability Plan is a placeholder request as the actual determination of tuition rates and increases by the Board of Governors will not occur until next spring. Actual tuition rates will be dependent on the actual level of state funding for higher education in fiscal year 2012. The funding level will not be known until at least next April and, therefore, we are presenting concepts and nothing more at this time.”

A group of department staff members will review each request and pass it along to a subcommittee of the CCHE, which in turn will make recommendations to the full commission. The group expects to make decisions no later than September. The new flexibility law allows institutions to appeal CCHE decisions.

While the commission set Friday as the deadline for plans if colleges want flexibility for 2011-12, no specific deadline is in the new flexibility law. Several institutions have been concerned about making requests at this point, given that much can change before a state budget finally is adopted late next April.

The commission has said institutions can amend proposals after state revenue forecasts are made in April. And, the commission would have the power to reopen applications if it chooses, given there’s no cutoff in state law.

The plans cover tuition only for residents undergraduate students. College trustees already are free to set whatever tuition they choose for out-of-state undergrads and for all graduate students.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.