CU could lock tuition rates

Jan 272011
Authors: Justin Rampy

CU-Boulder is considering a policy that would lock in the cost of tuition over a student’s first four years –– a move CSU has not considered and will likely not make, university administrators said.

The Tuition Guarantee Plan is still in its beginning stages, and CU’s Board of Regents is weighing all potential pros and cons of the proposed change. If the TGP were to go into effect at CU, students of each incoming freshmen class would be guaranteed a pre-determined tuition rate for the next four years.

For each subsequent class of incoming freshmen students, the tuition rate would increase to compensate for inflation, and these rates would also be locked in for the next four years.

CU has offered a guarantee, known as a flat tuition rate, to out-of-state students since spring 2005, according to its Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis website

But when considering tuition, “there are many dynamics that go into deciding what tuition will be,” CSU Chancellor Joe Blake said, and locked-in tuition rates can hurt students or the university.

If state funding is cut more dramatically than anticipated without the ability to increase tuition, CU may not have enough money to cover its costs, said Ken McConnellogue, CU’s associate vice president for University Relations.

On the other hand, Blake said students on locked-in tuition could end up with the short end of the stick if tuition rates stayed constant or decreased as a result of increased higher education funding from Colorado. Their fours years would come with a more expensive price tag.

Should the TGP not go into affect, CU will face a 9.5 percent increase as approved by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. This year’s students in the most common major groups, including arts and sciences, paid $7,018. The increase would add about $667 to that rate.

The hope, McConnellogue said, is that the TGP would help students and families budget with an unchanging annual bill, in addition to assisting CU in its attempts to plan its annual budget.

“When we know exactly how much money to expect from tuition for the next four years, it really helps us to balance our budget,” McConnellogue said.

CU’s tuition rate would be based on current and projected costs, according to McConnellogue, and the goal is to find a middle ground for students to pay a consistent rate over all four years.

“The first year, students could see a considerable jump in tuition, but over the next four years this should level out what they have to pay,” McConnellogue said.

McConnellogue said the Board of Regents would take this and other concerns into consideration when it meets this February, and the board has a ways to go before deciding to adopt or reject the policy.

For its part, Blake said the CSU System Board of Governors watches state revenue forecasts and rarely makes tuition or fiscal decisions before analyzing budget drafts released in March.

CSU’s tuition for this year is $5,256, according to university Institutional Research. The university is expected to face a possible 20 percent increase in tuition for next year, which would add up to $1,051.

Staff writer Justin Rampy can be reached at

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