Feb 152010
Authors: Lincoln Greenhaw, Kirsten Silveira

CSU President Tony Frank said at a board meeting on the university’s fiscal year 2011 budget Monday that tuition could double in coming years as he expects Colorado to cease higher education funding within the next half a decade.

“The state will try to wash its hands of the regulatory side of higher education,” said Frank, who is normally optimistic about the future of CSU.

The announcement came after the newest budget projection from the state heralded an additional cut of $1.4 million in state funding from the university’s operating budget, totaling an overall deficit of $13.4 million.

Frank expressed mounting frustration during the Student Fee Review Board’s weekly meeting, saying that a privatized model for the state’s higher education system is unsustainable but increasingly likely.

“Privatizing higher education is bad public policy,” he said. “I don’t know what defunded higher education is other than private.”

Tim Hole, the vice president of the Associated Students of CSU, said that, while he agrees the state will continue to gradually stop financing higher education, he said he doesn’t think the state can “get itself completely out of higher ed.”

If the state proposal allowing universities complete control over tuition hikes passes, Hole said he couldn’t imagine CSU deciding on an increase of more than 20 percent in a given year.

He said institutions have to strike a balance between affordable tuition and academic quality.

“Every time you see a tuition increase, Tony Frank has to sit in his office and in one hand say ‘access’ and in the other hand say ‘excellence,’” he said.

Hole added that CSU’s tuition will remain competitive unless it faces further crippling cuts to state funding.

In one visible move toward privatization, Colorado has stopped defining public money it grants institutions as “appropriations,” renaming it “fees for service” that colleges and universities provide to the state community.

“There is a huge switch in the nature of our revenues here,” said Lynn Johnson, associate vice president for Finance.

The current draft of 2011’s budget slates undergraduate resident tuition to increase 9 percent, while undergraduate non-resident tuition will rise 3 percent, which has been the typical increase over the last decade.

While tuition will rise, Frank said each of the university’s colleges is attempting to shelter its students from the funding fallout by making cuts from administrative positions and offering more need-based financial aid.

Students, though, have already seen the impact of these cuts, Hole said, citing a recent faculty drain as departments choose not to fill vacated positions.

“You’d not only see the loss of faculty,” if CSU keeps getting hit with $12 million budget cuts, he said. “You’ll see them running.”
Staff Writer Lincoln Greenhaw and Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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