Apr 292008
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

In-state CSU undergraduate students could face a $384 tuition increase next year, while out-of-state undergraduates are looking at an increase of about $614, according to the university’s proposed budget.

The 9.5 and 15.2 percent increases, for residents and non-residents respectively, will fund standard university operations and the school’s “stretch goals,” said Tony Frank, senior vice provost.

Graduate student tuition is also slated to increase by 15 percent for residents and five percent for non-residents.

Frank expects the Board of Governors of the CSU system to approve the budget, which falls below the state’s capping of tuition at 10 percent in one year.

The proposed increases are on top of increasing student fees, which will be more than $1,000 for full-time students next year.

Frank said that, although fees may seem expensive, fee increases for this year “fell below inflation.”

CSU tuition revenue primarily pays for mandatory university costs such as staff salary and utilities, and surplus revenue helps fund university improvements.

Colorado is currently dead last in state funding of higher education, leaving the brunt of the financial burden on students and families.

Next year, the state is expected to provide $11.3 million to CSU, covering less than half of its $27.6 million in mandatory costs and forcing CSU to look beyond state funding to pay the bills.

Frank said next year’s tuition increase is necessary to keep up with costs and meet goals set by the administration.

CSU hopes new revenue will improve financial aid and athletics, bring in tenure and tenure-track professors and fund university ventures such as environmental initiatives and student retention programs, Frank said.

But although skyrocketing tuition costs may empty student bank accounts to provide a budget surplus, state guidelines limiting university revenue and higher education funding handicap CSU’s ability to compete with other universities for faculty members.

Some public universities in the U.S. charge in-state students nearly $20,000 for tuition and fees, a cost comparable to what CSU charges non-residents.

Since many schools receive sufficient state funding to cover mandatory costs, they have an extensive surplus to put toward unique research programs, enhanced curricula and staff salary increases.

These universities have a better chance of attracting esteemed professors than lower-funded schools, such as CSU, Frank said.

“We’re the Pittsburg Pirates competing with the New York Yankees,” Frank said.

Students should expect to see a similar increase in the 2010 fiscal year and beyond, Frank said.

Staff writer Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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