What is behind the increase in tuition fees in Colorado? – The Burlington Record
Colorado State University tuition fees will rise 3% next year, reflecting the University of Colorado’s recent hike, and higher education officials say the increase is in part due a mandatory salary increase for government employees.
Tuition fees plus overhead for the upcoming academic year for an undergraduate Colorado resident living on the CSU Fort Collins campus totals over $ 12,430 and is expected to increase by approximately $ 280 the following year. Starting in 2022, CU Boulder’s annual tuition fees for state undergraduates will increase by $ 312, for a total of $ 11,040.
With the addition of fees, on-campus accommodation, books and supplies, the two universities estimate that a year of college for an undergraduate student in the state will amount to nearly $ 30,000. One year of college studies as an international student at CSU is estimated to be nearly $ 50,000 and over $ 55,000 at CU Boulder.
Colorado is near the bottom when it comes to state support for higher education funding. Colorado students and their families bear more of the cost of their college degrees than most states, according to data from the Funding of state higher education report. In 1980, the share of Colorado students was 37% compared to 21% of American students. In 2020, Colorado students bore 67% of the cost, compared to 44% of American students.
Now, students are being asked to shoulder the cost of salary increases for those who keep campuses running, whether that’s cleaning buildings, running the financial aid office, or keeping the lights on. Higher education officials have also said the ongoing fallout from the pandemic is contributing to rising tuition fees.
Yet neither of the two universities has increased tuition fees for several years. The tuition increase will be the first since fall 2018 for the last increase in CSU in 2018, and CU will have kept tuition fees at the same level for four consecutive years.
CU Boulder has a Tuition Fee Guarantee that locks in a student’s starting rate for four years, meaning current students will not be affected by the tuition increase.
“In the meantime, the cost of everything has gone up,” said Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
In 2019, Governor Jared Polis said Colorado tuition fees had “Got out of hand”. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, what is driving the rise and what does it mean for students seeking a degree?
“A public college should be an affordable, high-quality option for any student,” said Michele Streeter, associate director of policy and advocacy at the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success. “If we continue to make this unaffordable, it means that students will not register or they will get into more debt… We are already asking students with the lowest incomes to take on more debt. More individuals and communities will suffer if this continues. “
According to the College Board, tuition fees at two-year public schools in Colorado, adjusted for inflation, increased by 30% from 2011 to 2021, now costing $ 4,820 per year on average. At four-year public institutions over the same period, tuition fees, adjusted for inflation, climbed 36% to an average of $ 11,420 per year.
One of the factors driving the tuition hike this year is a state-imposed 3% pay hike for state-classified employees, Paccione said. Examples of state-classified employees on a college campus include certain hourly workers, dining room workers, dormitory workers, and financial aid workers.
Forty-three percent of all state-classified employees work at higher education institutions in Colorado, Paccione said. The pay rise, approved earlier this year by the state legislature, will take effect on July 1.
“If the state means we’re going to have a 3% increase in employee pay, we don’t provide those dollars to higher education institutions to distribute it, then they are grappling with that,” Paccione said. . “It puts a strain on the budget, especially in the past year, when our establishments have experienced a decline in registrations. “
While most university professors are not included in the mandatory salary increase, Paccione said many universities are planning a 3% salary increase in all areas to avoid crushing morale.
“The legislature and governor have been very generous to higher education this year, especially with state and federal stimulus funds,” Paccione said. “There will be opportunities for students not to be so affected because we have invested a lot of money in state financial aid and in many new programs coming up for students, so we are trying to maintain this increase as far away from the students as possible. possible, but there is no other way to do it.
The Metropolitan State University of Denver, which prides itself on being the most affordable four-year higher education institution in the Front Range, is not raising tuition fees this coming academic year.
A Colorado resident taking 12 credits at MSU Denver in 2021-2022 will be billed around $ 5,200 while an out-of-state student will pay around $ 11,000.
The suburban institution that serves a large population of first generation students and people of color will wait until their fall enrollment figures arrive before deciding whether to extend the 3% pay hike to all employees, said George Middlemist, chief financial officer of MSU Denver .
“Unfortunately, higher education tends to be the linchpin of the state budget,” said Middlemist, who noted that the state has invested more than ever in MSU Denver this year. “We rely so much on state support because we don’t have ancillary income. We don’t have residential housing, concession stands – we’re a suburban campus. All of these things really put us under pressure.
Streeter’s national organization advocates for a proposal create a partnership between the state and the federal government. In the event of an economic downturn, Streeter said, and the state experiences a budget crisis, the federal government would step in to automatically bolster state funding as part of the institute’s proposal.
“The federal government has federal aid, student loans, but there is no coordinated funding partnership between all of these entities that run the system in tandem,” Streeter said. “You want to have an established partnership where there is this coordination and the states adhere to it and agree to the parameters to receive federal funding while maintaining the flexibility of the state. The overall cost of going to school and being able to stay in school and have the resources you need is increasingly unaffordable, and there is a growing gap. We need to take advantage of the federal government’s ability to manage this.