Oct 082009
Authors: Aaron Hedge

A state higher education board unanimously approved a proposal it will submit to the state appropriations committee this semester that would cap tuition increases at public colleges and universities at 9 percent for fiscal year 2011 Thursday in the Lory Student Center.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education will submit the proposal to the Joint Budget Committee Nov. 2, along with budget proposals from public institutions across the state.

If approved by the state, the resolution will mean CSU tuition can increase no more than $433 next year, which would bring tuition for the year to $5,255.

During the conference, board members revised the resolution to allow universities to cap tuition at 9 percent on average, instead of the originally proposed 9 percent per student, which one CSU official said gives institutions more flexibility to comply with the cap.

Because of differing tuition and service fees –/which are separate from tuition –/in different academic programs some students would see higher or lower percentage increases than others under the original proposal.

Alan Lamborn, the vice provost for Undergraduate Affairs, said under the original document, a student in equine science who pays more in tuition fees would see a smaller percentage increase than the average liberal arts student because the percentage would be based solely on tuition.

And, he said, because of the complex fees attached to tuition and the continuously increasing price of tuition, students and their families don’t know the exact figure they will pay until they see an invoice.

“The student’s family doesn’t know what they’re paying for until they get the bill,” he said.

Over the past few years, Colorado institutions of higher education have been forced to implement sharp tuition hikes, as Colorado is dead last in the nation for funding for higher education.

In 2007 alone, CSU increased its tuition by 16 percent,/or $574.

In the last six years, tuition here has increased by 53 percent, while the bulk of the higher education’s financial burden has shifted from the state government to the backs of students and their parents.

Political science professor John Straayer recalled in interviews earlier this year that, 20 years ago, about 75 percent of operating costs for CSU was the responsibility of the state, while students shouldered the other 25 percent. Now, he said, the ratio is flipped, and/students bear the majority of the burden.

CSU President Tony Frank has said in interviews that skyrocketing tuition presents a big problem for families and students trying to support themselves through school in a failing economy, and that, if something is not done to quell the problem soon, the university will not be able to sustain the same model it has for the last century and a half.

“You’d become a smaller, more expensive institution,” he told the Collegian earlier this semester.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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