Mar 092004
 
Authors: Chris Kampfe, Adrienne Hoenig

In-state CSU students may see a 40 percent increase in tuition

this fall, said CSU President Larry Penley.

The increase would raise tuition and fees for two full-time

semesters from $2,908 to $4,071.

This projection came from the first day of a figure-setting

process by the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. A proposal to cut

money from higher education state funding was recommended by the

JBC staff, but has not been passed by the six JBC members.

The proposed tuition increase would compensate for projected

state higher education budget cuts of nearly $100 million across

Colorado.

“The state is facing another budget problem in terms of its

ability to cover its expenditures with revenue,” Penley said.

“Unfortunately, higher education is one of those areas where they

tend to go to cut.”

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, greatly restricts a

university’s ability to raise tuition because tuition is considered

state income. It also leaves higher education as one of the least

protected state areas, with spending items like K-12 education and

Medicare taking more and more of the General Fund money each

year.

Nearly $20 million is proposed to be cut from CSU’s funding

which would eliminate roughly one-third of the money currently

being used to support undergraduate education, Penley said.

Penley also said the University of Colorado and CSU are taking

proportionately larger cuts from the General Fund. Estimates

project CU will lose $50 million, or close to 50 percent of its

state funding. This is more than twice the amount of funding being

cut at CSU. CU currently receives more funding than CSU.

“(The Joint Budget Committee) recommended larger cuts for the

two research universities, CSU and CU,” Penley said. “That way (it)

could recommend smaller amounts for other universities in the

state.”

These cuts would come after a series of state funding reductions

the past few years. CSU officials are aware that such cuts might

take place because of complications that arise from TABOR.

“Higher education is (the JBC’s) budget-balancing entity,” said

Gerard Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services. “The

JBC is not anti-higher education. They just don’t have any

options.”

Penley said with a possible tuition increase, part of the

university’s responsibility is to provide students with financial

aid.

“We need to have a tuition raise that not only offsets the

General Fund reduction, but provides Colorado State University with

the opportunity to provide some aid to students who are really

going to need the aid to go to school,” Penley said.

Such a significant tuition hike would undoubtedly increase the

number of students seeking financial aid, he said.

“Well, what we already do is we use revenue to support aid for

some students,” Penley said. “I’m just saying that if we were to

see a tuition increase of that size you’re going to have to

increase the amount of money that you have available for need-based

and merit-based aid.”

Officials cited tuition increase as one of the only options to

make up for state funding losses.

“I get very concerned about being able to provide a quality

education with the continuing decrease in General Fund from the

state of Colorado for CSU,” Penley said. “There’s no question that

if tuition were to go up that substantially that a lot of students

would face considerable difficulty in affording to go to

school.”

The Associated Students of CSU are also aware of potential

consequences of these cuts. ASCSU has representatives at the

Capitol at least two days a week and has a contract-hired

lobbyist.

ASCSU President Jesse Lauchner said he has been to the Capitol

nearly three or four times a week the past several weeks.

ASCSU takes a very active role and has been aware of TABOR’s

impacts on higher education for a while, Lauchner said.

“Up until this point it was kind of speculation and we didn’t

want people to have negative responses prematurely,” Lauchner said.

“This is the time to understand what’s squeezing (higher education)

out, and mobilize against them.”

ASCSU instituted a “CSU Day at the Capitol” this semester in an

attempt to get students involved in legislation that may affect

CSU.

“There are a lot of potential voters on campus that should

consider this a time (that) they could have some influence,”

Lauchner said. “Sometimes there’s a disconnect between how parents

vote and how their kids are effected.”

To prevent these cuts to higher education, voters may choose to

amend TABOR, allowing tax money to be directed to other areas of

the state’s budget.

“The citizens will have to decide whether they’re willing to

help us on this, or whether they prefer the system and feel that

these cuts are justified,” said Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Larimer

County, a member of the Joint Budget Committee.

Though the proposal is strictly speculative at this point,

interpretations from CSU and the JBC do not see eye to eye.

“I felt the presentation was generally well received,” Bomotti

said. “But (the legislators) didn’t take any action because they

wanted to check with the governor.”

Sen. Reeves views the prospects of the bill as unlikely,

however.

“This is just a proposal from the staff, the committee has made

no decision at all,” Reeves said. “I kind of doubt that we will

accept it.”

Whether the proposal is accepted or not, Penley is concerned

with the quality of education CSU will be able to offer if more

cuts are implemented.

“There would be very severe consequences of just a

straightforward $20 million cut,” Penley said. “If you keep cutting

General Fund and you don’t raise tuition very much, the quality of

CSU decreases and the value of your degrees go down.”

Collegian reporters Kyle Endres and Jason Kosena contributed to

this article.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.