Jun 292010
Authors: Jordyn Dahl

CSU officials say next year’s overall 10.2 percent increase to tuition and fees will allow the university to hire more professors and improve campus in spite of a large cut to the Fort Collins campus operating budget.

The CSU System Board of Governors passed the budget for the 2011 fiscal year last Wednesday, approving an increase in tuition for undergraduate residents by 9 percent at both the Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses.

The changes go into effect on July 1 and include a 3 percent increase for non-residents as well as a $203 increase in fees for full-time resident undergraduates at the Fort Collins campus, bringing the overall tuition and fee increase to 10.2 percent.

Due to depleting state funding for Colorado’s higher education system, as well a still-struggling state economy, the operating budget for the Fort Collins campus will be cut 3.5 percent, from $799.7 million to $771.2 million, or $28.5 million total.

But campus officials said the tuition increase will still allow the university to create more faculty positions, improve the buildings on campus and open the ones currently under construction.

“We believe that the resources provided for these increases will enable us to keep classes open and open new degree programs,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda.

Although the CSU-Fort Collins budget will be slashed, CSU-Pueblo’s operating budget will grow by $5.4 million, or 7.2 percent, bringing the total from $75.8 million to $80.2 million.

The CSU System office budget will be the only one unaffected. It will remain steady at $4.5 million, the same amount it was allotted for the 2010 fiscal year.

“We had decreased our budget by 11 percent last year, so we’re maintaining the status quo,” said Michelle McKinney, spokeswoman for the BOG.

Gaps in state funding for Colorado’s higher education institutions have been filled with stimulus dollars for the past few years, but that money is supposed to run out after 2011 –– a time that some higher education advocates have called a funding cliff.

That cliff could result in a permanent base cut of $33 million for CSU, depending on how the state recovers from the economic recession that continues to wrack havoc on the country’s finances.

With the fear that future cost cutting could threaten student access to education and the quality of that education at CSU looming over budget decisions, a press release about the budget passage said that CSU will continue to explore funding models that could create long-term financial stability.

“Until a sustainable funding solution for public higher education is found, the budget process moving ahead will be a growing challenge with balancing access with the realities of funding higher education,” CSU Chancellor Joe Black said in the release.

Staff writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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