CU's rising tuition
In-state tuition increases at CU-Boulder since 2004:
2014-15: 3.3 percent
2013-14: 8.7 percent
2012-13: 5 percent
2011-12: 9.3 percent
2010-11: 8.9 percent
2009-10: 8.8 percent
2008-09: 9.3 percent
2007-08: 19 percent
2006-07: 2.4 percent
2005-06: 27.8 percent
2004-05: 9 percent
DENVER — The University of Colorado's Board of Regents voted Friday to increase tuition on the Boulder campus 3.3 percent for the 2014-2015 academic year, the smallest hike in eight years.
The 3.3 percent increase amounts to an extra $288 a year for in-state undergraduates, according to CU officials. The regents technically approved an increase of up to 3.4 percent, but campus budget officials said the actual increase will be closer to 3.3 percent.
The increase is based on 30 credit hours a year for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Tuition for in-state students in arts and sciences is $8,760 this year on the Boulder campus.
Campus budget officials said the increase will fund employee compensation and mandatory costs, and investments in academic advising technology and compliance. The increased rates will also help fund CU's Esteemed Scholars program, a merit-based scholarship program for Colorado students.
Campus budget officials said some of the money will be distributed to science and engineering programs on the Boulder campus, which have seen enrollment growth in recent years and are more expensive than humanities programs.
"The campuses clearly identified the needs that additional tuition would serve, and our budgeting process was rigorous," said Regent Sue Sharkey, R-Castle Rock, explaining her decision to vote in favor of the increase.
The regents also approved a salary increase for classified employees of up to 3.5 percent, which includes a state-mandated 2.5 percent increase, plus an additional 1 percent merit pool. The regents also approved a merit pool of 3 percent for faculty members and exempt employees.
President Bruce Benson said CU's faculty members are paid less, on average, than those at peer institutions at other states. He said increasing tuition to raise salaries is a way to stay competitive and keep the "best and brightest" from leaving Colorado.
"I feel very proud of what's going on here," he said. "We have to do some kind of tuition increases. I hate it as much as anybody in this room, but I'm proud of the fact that we're holding this down into the threes."
A boost in state funding this year allowed for a tuition increase that's small compared to recent years. Tuition increases have mostly hovered around 8 or 9 percent in the last 10 years, with the smallest coming in 2006-2007, at 2.4 percent, and the largest at 27.8 percent in 2005-2006.
Gov. John Hickenlooper requested an additional $100 million for higher education next year, which includes a $60 million increase for operating costs and $40 million for statewide financial aid. That plan also includes a tuition increase cap of 6 percent for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
Todd Saliman, CU's chief budget officer, said the long bill, which funds state government next year, is expected to go before the Legislature on Monday.
The CU system's share of the proposed $60 million increase for operating costs is expected to be $16.5 million, which translates to roughly $6 million for the Boulder campus.
The regents also approved a new tuition level for international students of 7.8 percent above the 2013-2014 out-of-state undergraduate rate. Once out-of-state undergraduates arrive at CU, however, their tuition rate is locked for four years.
Tuition will increase 3.1 percent for in-state graduate students and 2.9 percent for out-of-state undergraduates. Tuition for out-of-state graduate students will increase 3 percent.
The regents also approved increases for a variety of student fees on the Boulder campus, including a 4.5 percent increase for standard room and board, a 10.1 percent increase in the Wardenburg student health fee and a 33.3 percent increase in the career services fee. Fees for specific academic programs such as integrative physiology and mechanical engineering also went up.
Regent Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction, said an increase in tuition is an investment toward keeping Colorado competitive nationally and internationally with schools such as Stanford and MIT.
"Folks, we're the University of Colorado and there's a lot of value here, and if nothing else, we owe to our students, our citizens and our state the opportunity to compete on a national and international basis," he said. "My support for that tuition increase is because nothing comes cheap, and for me, it's an investment."
The regents voted to increase rates despite hearing a detailed proposal from Regent Jim Geddes, R-Sedalia, to keep tuition flat next year, a presentation Geddes called "Option X."
Geddes described falling incomes among middle-class families and decried the "large and draconian tuition increases" of recent years.
"It's time to halt in-state tuition increases," Geddes told the board. "Let's give our state citizens some relief from the dramatic escalation of the higher education costs in Colorado."
At least some students on the Boulder campus agreed with Geddes's proposal, saying that any increase in tuition is too much.
Although he's graduating in May, Chris Ahumada said he worries about underclassmen and the burden increasing tuition places on them.
He receives a substantial amount of financial aid in the form of grants, but Ahumada, who's studying biochemistry, said he's taken out roughly $8,000 in student loans over the last four years.
"Nobody wants to pay more money, especially these days," said Ahumada, who is from Firestone. "It's been manageable for me, but I know some of my friends have really struggled with it, loans and stuff."
Lora Roberts, a junior studying communications and elementary education, said she feels the regents and campus budget officials could have consulted more with students about their thoughts on a potential increase.
Roberts, who serves as chief of staff for the executive staff of CU Student Government, said the tuition increase, while small this year, is only building on past increases.
"It's good that it's lower than last year, but I do think we need to continue working to stop these raises in general," said Roberts, who's originally from Littleton. "We're just making higher education really inaccessible for students, and I don't think that's OK."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or email@example.com.