Jun 232009
Authors: Madeline Novey

At a time when higher education is suffering tremendous state cuts, the CSU System Board of Governors approved the 2010 fiscal budget today while keeping tuition increases to single digits.

As previously announced, students can expect to pay a 9 percent, or $398, increase in tuition this fall. And while no campus leader rejoiced at the tuition increase itself, CSU President Tony Frank said it is just one of the provisions that was made to ensure financial security in an uncertain time.

“This budget avoids debilitating cuts to CSU and higher education, thanks to the leadership of Governor Ritter and our state’s elected representatives,” Frank said of CSU-Fort Collins’ total $422.3 million FY10 budget.

The tuition increase is a result of an increase in the university’s mandatory costs — which fluctuate with the state of the economy and basic inflation — which were employee health care and financial aid predominately Frank said.

The University of Colorado regents voted in May to approve a 3.9 percent tuition increase for in-state students, 5 percent for non-residents and a 5.3 percent increase room-and-board increase, as reported by ColoradoDaily.com.

While CU-Boulder did experience lesser percentage increases, it is important to note the percentage difference between the two schools based on dollar figure increases, said Emily Wilmsen, CSU spokesperson. When comparing dollar figure increases between CSU and CU-Boulder for a resident, undergraduate taking 15 credits per semester in the arts and sciences, CSU incurred only 75 percent of the increase as CU-Boulder.

CSU arts and sciences tuition increase: $4,822

CU-Boulder arts and sciences tuition increase: $6,446

Difference: $1,624

In April, state universities were faced with the possibility of a $300 million cut to state higher education — triple the amount Gov. Bill Ritter advised in January — which would have cut the $130 million CSU currently receives from the state in half, Frank said in an e-mail to the Collegian in early May.

Heeding the Joint Budget Committee’s recommendations, Ritter drafted a plan that would instead cut $150 million from higher education; to be backfilled annually for three years using the federal stimulus money the state is set to receive if it maintains its commitment to funding universities.

On Tuesday, the Denver Post reported Ritter’s Monday announcement that the state would have to use $249 million set aside for next year’s budget to pay for a $384 million shortfall in fiscal year 2010. Sen. Moe Keller (D-Wheat Ridge) was quoted saying hProxy-Connection: keep-alive

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her education will likely be “spared any significant cuts.”

In order to make up for the $30 million lost last year due to the economic downturn, Gov. Ritter approved the use of $30 in stimulus money to make up for the university’s shortfall. The state will provide approximately 16 percent of CSU’s revenues, including the stimulus dollars.

“Their actions to backfill budget cuts this year will allow us time to focus on cost containment and thoughtful, conservative approaches to lowering spending, while state leaders consider a long-term approach to better supporting Colorado education,” Frank said Wednesday.

Cautious of arriving in the future at what Frank called a “financial cliff,” a time without stable funding and an absence of stimulus dollars, the university worked on a “sustainable path forward” with single digit annual tuition increases and low single-digit annual budget reductions without draws against institutional reserves.

After Wednesday’s board meeting, Frank said that the tuition increase incurred is part of a national trend, but more acute in Colorado. He agreed this trend was part of a vicious higher education circle in which funding to higher education decreases, requiring a tuition increase; only to be met by decreased institutional funding the next year.

He said in a sense, higher education is becoming more privatized, the process of making individuals pay more as funding from the government decreases.

“We have shifted the cost from a taxpayer to an individual,” he said, immediately asking, “Can we keep doing that? I don’t know . it’s a national trend.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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