CSU is not the only school that could see a drastic decline in state appropriations next year, as CU-Boulder announced last week that it could lose up to 54 percent of its state funding.
CSUâ€™s administration is also not alone in asking the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, CCHE, to apply Senate Bill 3 and allow for tuition flexibility above the current 9 percent cap.
The university submitted a plan earlier this month asking for the ability to hike tuition 20 percent, or $1,050, for in-state students if it finds itself in dire straights.
CU-Boulderâ€™s submission asked for 9.5 percent, about $650 more per semester, flexibility.
Ken McConnellogue, associate vice president for University Relations at CU-Boulder, works closely with the University of Colorado Board of Regents and said the â€œskeleton draftâ€ of the operating budget estimates the state funding dropping from $159 million to about $80 million.
â€œWeâ€™ve cut through the muscle and into the bone,â€ McConnellogue said in a phone interview with the Collegian.
CU-Boulder started in July 2009 with $209 million in state funding and has since seen about $51 million in cuts. Talking about the budget this early in the process, he said, is like looking into a â€œcloudy crystal ball,â€ so, for now, CU-Boulder will play like CSU and plan for the worst.
â€œIt could be 3 percent, it could be 9 percent; it could be 9.5. The annoying aspect of the state requiring us to submit this number is that people believe 9.5 percent is set in stone when itâ€™s not,â€ McConnellogue said.
The strategy of both institutions is similar: eliminate jobs, curb administrative spending and keep the cuts away from students and research.
CSUâ€™s Provost Rick Miranda said the university administration is not yet modeling cuts at that level. CSUâ€™s request to the CCHE plans for a definite loss of about $16.6 million â€“â€“ an amount that was brought in by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act â€“â€“ and a tentative loss of an additional $11 million.
In 2009, Miranda said, CSU saw state appropriations drop by $30 million and in 2010 by an additional $45 million. For this budget year the $45 million in state funding was restored but federal stimulus money â€œdecayedâ€ from $30 million to $16.6 million.
Next year there will be no federal stimulus money for distribution.
CSUâ€™s tentative plan to raise tuition in the event of major budget constraints centers on closing the credit gap. This means that instead of paying for only 10 credits a semester students would be asked to pay for 12 â€“â€“ the national average.
For students who take between 10 and 18 credits, CSU covers the cost of all credit hours beyond the 10 students pay tuition for. This means that students who take 15 credits essentially get
five credits for free. Students who take more than 18 credits see additional course fees.
The proposals Colorado institutions submitted to the CCHE earlier this month were required to include a five-year â€œperformance plan,â€ which outlined institutional strides in access, matriculation rates, instruction quality, student employment opportunities and operational efficiency.
If the CCHE approves the flexibility, the institution chooses to hike tuition beyond the 9 percent cap and these guidelines are not met, then the CCHE will have the power to roll back tuition hikes and deny access to future tuition increases.
The amount institutions can increase tuition for out-of-state students, however, is not capped. Meaning that universities can only raise tuition as high as the market allows for non-residents.
CU-Boulder will tread lightly here, McConnellogue said, because it is one of the more expensive schools for out-of-state students to attend in the nation.
News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.