Going at $57 a Semester

Nov 042003
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Ralph Kotich, a graduate of the Class of 1950, remembers what he

paid to attend CSU.

“We were on the quarter system, you understand,” Kotich said.

“I’m not sure, you may have to quote the archives, but it seems

like it was $45 dollars a quarter.”

The Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis reports tuition

in 1950 costing $114 per academic year.

“I pay about $20,000,” said Autumn Brown, a freshman open option

student from Montana. “I wish we could pay (1950 rates) right


Brown would have paid $294 as a non-resident in 1950.

Tuition has increased steadily since 1950 to almost $3,000 for

in-state students today. It was $605 by the end of the 1970s and

saw its greatest increase in the 1980s, when the cost of college

grew 166 percent to $1,636 by 1990.

Charles Revier, an associate professor in the economics

department, said state laws and inflation are the cause of such

steep increases.

The amount of tuition does not cover the full cost of running

the instructional programs for the university. Instead, the

Colorado General Assembly appropriates funds to supplement what the

university lacks in tuition, Revier said.

“What happened in Colorado over time is that, for various

reasons, state support has been whittled down and whittled down to

the point where the university is forced to rely on tuition much

more heavily than it did before,” Revier said.

Legislation called TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, limits

the total increase in state expenditures from one year to the next.

While one program can receive more money than TABOR allows, another

program’s funding would have to be reduced in order for the state

to remain compliant.

“And particularly, with the adoption of Amendment 23, we sort of

gave priority to (primary and secondary) state and local schools

(over higher education),” Revier said.

Inflation does not help tuition prices either. With the

production of goods, there are often improvements in technology,

making production more affordable as time goes on, he said.

“The thing that is special about higher education is that it’s

basically a service. With services like haircuts or higher

education, there is just not much possibility for that kind of

technological innovation,” Revier said.

Even though tuition has increased more than $2,000 dollars since

the 1950s, getting through school for some students was not any


Kotich was born in 1928 during the Great Depression and put

himself through college. During summers he would work a 70-hour


“I was what they called a ‘mudmucker’ in the bottom of the dam

when they were putting in the core (for the Thompson Valley Dams),”

Kotich said. “I worked in the grocery store, I worked at the

university when the farm was right there on campus.”




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