In-state CSU students may see a 40 percent increase in tuition
this fall, said CSU President Larry Penley.
The increase would raise tuition and fees for two full-time
semesters from $2,908 to $4,071.
This projection came from the first day of a figure-setting
process by the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. A proposal to cut
money from higher education state funding was recommended by the
JBC staff, but has not been passed by the six JBC members.
The proposed tuition increase would compensate for projected
state higher education budget cuts of nearly $100 million across
“The state is facing another budget problem in terms of its
ability to cover its expenditures with revenue,” Penley said.
“Unfortunately, higher education is one of those areas where they
tend to go to cut.”
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, greatly restricts a
university’s ability to raise tuition because tuition is considered
state income. It also leaves higher education as one of the least
protected state areas, with spending items like K-12 education and
Medicare taking more and more of the General Fund money each
Nearly $20 million is proposed to be cut from CSU’s funding
which would eliminate roughly one-third of the money currently
being used to support undergraduate education, Penley said.
Penley also said the University of Colorado and CSU are taking
proportionately larger cuts from the General Fund. Estimates
project CU will lose $50 million, or close to 50 percent of its
state funding. This is more than twice the amount of funding being
cut at CSU. CU currently receives more funding than CSU.
“(The Joint Budget Committee) recommended larger cuts for the
two research universities, CSU and CU,” Penley said. “That way (it)
could recommend smaller amounts for other universities in the
These cuts would come after a series of state funding reductions
the past few years. CSU officials are aware that such cuts might
take place because of complications that arise from TABOR.
“Higher education is (the JBC’s) budget-balancing entity,” said
Gerard Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services. “The
JBC is not anti-higher education. They just don’t have any
Penley said with a possible tuition increase, part of the
university’s responsibility is to provide students with financial
“We need to have a tuition raise that not only offsets the
General Fund reduction, but provides Colorado State University with
the opportunity to provide some aid to students who are really
going to need the aid to go to school,” Penley said.
Such a significant tuition hike would undoubtedly increase the
number of students seeking financial aid, he said.
“Well, what we already do is we use revenue to support aid for
some students,” Penley said. “I’m just saying that if we were to
see a tuition increase of that size you’re going to have to
increase the amount of money that you have available for need-based
and merit-based aid.”
Officials cited tuition increase as one of the only options to
make up for state funding losses.
“I get very concerned about being able to provide a quality
education with the continuing decrease in General Fund from the
state of Colorado for CSU,” Penley said. “There’s no question that
if tuition were to go up that substantially that a lot of students
would face considerable difficulty in affording to go to
The Associated Students of CSU are also aware of potential
consequences of these cuts. ASCSU has representatives at the
Capitol at least two days a week and has a contract-hired
ASCSU President Jesse Lauchner said he has been to the Capitol
nearly three or four times a week the past several weeks.
ASCSU takes a very active role and has been aware of TABOR’s
impacts on higher education for a while, Lauchner said.
“Up until this point it was kind of speculation and we didn’t
want people to have negative responses prematurely,” Lauchner said.
“This is the time to understand what’s squeezing (higher education)
out, and mobilize against them.”
ASCSU instituted a “CSU Day at the Capitol” this semester in an
attempt to get students involved in legislation that may affect
“There are a lot of potential voters on campus that should
consider this a time (that) they could have some influence,”
Lauchner said. “Sometimes there’s a disconnect between how parents
vote and how their kids are effected.”
To prevent these cuts to higher education, voters may choose to
amend TABOR, allowing tax money to be directed to other areas of
the state’s budget.
“The citizens will have to decide whether they’re willing to
help us on this, or whether they prefer the system and feel that
these cuts are justified,” said Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Larimer
County, a member of the Joint Budget Committee.
Though the proposal is strictly speculative at this point,
interpretations from CSU and the JBC do not see eye to eye.
“I felt the presentation was generally well received,” Bomotti
said. “But (the legislators) didn’t take any action because they
wanted to check with the governor.”
Sen. Reeves views the prospects of the bill as unlikely,
“This is just a proposal from the staff, the committee has made
no decision at all,” Reeves said. “I kind of doubt that we will
Whether the proposal is accepted or not, Penley is concerned
with the quality of education CSU will be able to offer if more
cuts are implemented.
“There would be very severe consequences of just a
straightforward $20 million cut,” Penley said. “If you keep cutting
General Fund and you don’t raise tuition very much, the quality of
CSU decreases and the value of your degrees go down.”
Collegian reporters Kyle Endres and Jason Kosena contributed to