Tuition to rise 6.2 percent

Jul 022002
Authors: Ben Koerselman

Students can expect to pay a little bit more for their education this upcoming fall and spring semesters.

Last week it was announced that tuition for in-state undergraduate students would grow by 6.2 percent, the largest single year jump in more than a decade. Undergraduates who are not Colorado residents will see their tuition rise 9 percent in 2002-03.

The tuition rate hikes came only after the governing boards of Colorado’s public institutions of higher learning negotiated with the Colorado Commission for Higher Education, or CCHE, a move made necessary after Gov. Bill Owens vetoed a proposed 7.7 percent tuition hike in May.

“I asked the governing boards of our colleges and universities to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more reasonable tuition proposal,” Gov. Owens said in a release. “I am pleased to see that they responded.”

The governor took issue with the proposed tuition increase of 7.7 percent because it was three percentage points higher than the current rate of inflation. The 6.2 percent rate is exactly halfway between the 7.7 percent proposal and the inflation rate of 4.7 percent, a compromise that was suggested by CSU President Albert C. Yates, and University of Colorado, Boulder, President Elizabeth Hoffman, said Gerry Bomotti, vice president for administrative service at CSU.

Negotiations between the schools and the CCHE did not conclude until June 20, and an emergency meeting of the State Board of Agriculture (who oversees the CSU System) was held on June 25 to finalize the tuition increase in time for the closing of the fiscal year on June 30, Bomotti said.

Along with CSU, the CCHE allowed CU, the Colorado School of Mines, Fort Lewis College and the University of Northern Colorado to increase in-state tuition by 6.2 percent. Other institutions of higher learning in the state will be limited to a 4.7 percent increase for students who are Colorado residents.

“I am especially pleased that for about half of the in-state students – those attending community and state colleges – the tuition increase will now be held to the rate of inflation,” Gov. Owens said in a release. “For the other in-state students, at least the proposed rate increase has been cut in half. This is good news for Colorado students and their families as we work to keep higher education affordable.”

Perhaps not as good of news for out-of-state students, who will now see their tuition rise 9 percent at CSU, CU and the Colorado School of Mines, rather than the proposed increase of 7.7 percent. Other schools in the state will be allowed to increase nonresident tuition by 7.7 percent.

The higher percentage increase for nonresidents, and lower percentage increase for residents over what was originally proposed could lead to CSU garnering $100,000 to $125,000 less revenue from tuition this year than it would have with the flat 7.7 percent increase, Bomotti said.

Part of this is due to CSU having a smaller ratio of out-of-state students to in-state students. Out-of-state students traditionally make up about 23 percent of the total CSU student population, he said.

Comparatively, though, CSU remains relatively inexpensive for in-state and out-of-state students. According to a CCHE tuition and fee chart comparing CSU to other peer institutions like Ohio State University, Columbus and Texas A & M University, CSU in-state tuition represented about 78 percent of the average during the 2001-02 academic year. Over the same period CSU out-of-state tuition was about 94.3 percent of the average among peer institutions.

CSU’s tuition increase is also lower than some of its peers. Iowa State University instituted an across the board 18.5 percent tuition increase for 2002-03, while University of Nebraska, Lincoln students will see their tuition rise 10 percent for residents and 15 percent for nonresidents over the same period.

For a good portion of the late-1990s CSU was experiencing very low annual tuition increases. In fact, in-state tuition had not increased more than 4 percent annually since 1995, and out-of-state tuition increased annually by 5 percent or less during the same period.

Part of the cause of these low tuition increases can be traced to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment, or TABOR, which was implemented in 1993.

TABOR counts tuition revenue as part of the revenue of the state of Colorado, Bomotti said.

“What TABOR did was it took away the authority to raise tuition from the boards of regents and put it into the hands of the legislature,” he said.

Another contributing factor to the low tuition increases of the late-1990s was caused by the state legislature using General Fund money to “buydown” the tuition for residents, Bomotti said. A “buydown” means that the legislature would compute how much money would be generated from a certain percentage tuition increase, and then would give the school that amount so that it was taxpayers rather than students who were making up the difference.

“Legislatures at that time wanted to make higher education more affordable for students,” Bomotti said.

Though CSU continues to receive money from the state, it receives less money than some of its peer institutions, and over the past few years tuition increases at CSU have been less than half of those of its peers, he said.

The result of this is that less money coming in has made it more difficult for CSU to compete with other universities, and also made retention and recruitment of staff members more difficult, Bomotti said.

Associated Students of CSU President David Bower supported the tuition increase.

“It pains me to read in the newspaper students saying that they are against the tuition increase because they think CSU is already competitive enough,” he said in an interview in mid-June. “Is it worth the extra couple hundred dollars to see an increase in the value of your diploma because you come from a more respected institution. I think it is.”

However, Bomotti could give no hint as to whether this size of tuition increase could be expected in the future.

“It’s just going to be year to year to see how things are going with that,” he said.

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