On Wednesday, Colorado lawmakers in the Joint Budget Committee proposed a $300 million cut from the $600 million in funds allocated to public higher education.
Lawmakers are telling us not to panic because the JBC folks intend to fill the gap with funds from a $700 million workers’ compensation surplus. If it works out, they’re right. If it doesn’t, though, students could be in deep trouble.
And under the worst-case scenario, how are Colorado universities going to make up for the money cut? You guessed it. Our tuition dollars.
On top of the $300 million cut, the JBC approved raising university spending authority from the current annual 6.5 percent tuition increase cap to 9 percent. However, it has been suggested that this will be a soft cap, and universities will be able to “push tuition as far as the market will bear.” But if increases exceed the cap, the state will not bail out the institution.
In the simplest terms, universities will be given free reign to raise tuition as they see fit — if they’re willing to accept the consequences.
This could be a big problem.
In an already troubled economic climate, tuition hikes could look like an easy quick fix for budget shortfalls. However, for students, an increase could mean the difference between being able to pay for college next year or not.
Such a drastic proposed change should not be taken lightly.
So yell. Scream. Panic. Storm the Capitol with pitchforks and torches. Don’t let the legislature give universities free reign to pillage your pockets.
To our readers: If you’re still pouring over the April Fools’ Day issue of the Collegian in search of our joke, you can stop now. The joke was that there was no joke. Nothing was purposefully amiss in Wednesday’s paper. Thanks for playing along.