A proposal Tuesday to cap increases in tuition was voted for unanimously by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and has moved to the Joint Budget Committee for further figure setting.
The proposed cap of 9 percent for research institutions, including CSU, should come as a relief to many students since tuition at CSU rose 16 percent from the 2006-2007 academic year, and 15 percent during 2005-2006 year.
If implemented, a maximum 9 percent increase would cost resident undergraduates $180 extra per semester for the 2008-2009 academic year, an improvement from the $287 increase students saw per semester for the current academic year, but far from flawless.
The proposed tuition caps would not limit an increase in fees and on-campus housing, something CSU saw increase by double-digit percents this year.
In the CCHE’s proposal, the cap would apply strictly to state research institutions like CSU, CSU Pueblo, CU and UNC. A 7 percent cap was proposed for state institutions, like Adams, Metro, Ft. Lewis and Western State Colleges, and a 5 percent cap for community colleges.
In the current proposal, the caps would solely affect residential undergraduate students. Institutions’ governing boards would decide tuition ceilings for non-resident and graduate students.
That means increases in non-resident base tuition, currently at $8,740, and graduate school tuition would be under the discretion of the CSU’s Board of Governors.
Richard Ramirez, a commissioner on the CCHE said although tuition increases may not be a welcomed expense, revenue must come from somewhere.
“The universities have to stay afloat and they need to grow . if it’s not coming from the states . it has to come from the constituents,” Ramirez said. “There are a number of times when tuition will be above inflation increases.”
Ramirez said there is a wealth of factors considered in setting tuition costs, and maintain quality education must be kept in mind.
“There’s been a loss in the number of faculty members . the use of graduate students . there are a number of things that go into establishing the budget,” Ramirez said.
Raymond Baker, another commissioner on the CCHE, explained that low funding for higher education in the past has forced institutions to play catch up in order to overcome expenditures. He notes that tuition caps do not cover the increase of operating costs and inflation.
“State funding has not kept up with inflation . the institutions aren’t pocketing the money,” Baker said. “It continues to mitigate some of the expenses, but not all.”
The long bill to cap tuition rates is going to be viewed by the JBC this week. After its approval or amendment in the JBC, the bill will enter into the legislative process in the next week to 10 days, Baker said.
Senior Reporter Kaeli West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org