The new year has rolled in, and along with it began the 2014 Colorado legislative session. The session began on Jan. 8, and since then several bills have already been introduced, passed and killed. There are and will continue to be bills introduced that could have significant impacts on CU students, but the legislature moves quickly and sporadically; if we are to impact legislation this spring, students must stay informed.
In addition to so many others, one particular bill that students should be tracking is Senate Bill 14-001: College Affordability Act.
In December of 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015, which included a significant allocation to higher education institutions across the state. In a time when funding for any education, especially higher education, has been scarce, this is money that is much needed. Colorado is ranked 49th in the country for local and state support for higher education. With the state's limited budget these past few years, and an increased focus on job creation, higher education has often taken a back seat in terms of funding priorities. However, Hickenlooper's proposal includes roughly $60 million in operating costs and $40 million in financial aid to be distributed among the institutions in Colorado.
The governor's proposed allocation toward higher education costs has been rewritten as the College Affordability Act and has been introduced this session. The CU system would receive $16.6 million of the operating budget in addition to the funds received for financial aid. Furthermore, the bill places a cap on institutions of higher education so they are unable to raise tuition by more than 6 percent this year. This is a particularly important piece of the bill, considering last year's in-state undergraduate tuition increase of 8.6 percent in the College of Arts and Sciences.
As students and advocates, this is a bill that should be on everybody's radar. Given that higher education funding in Colorado has not received this much attention in the past, students can play an important role in the amount of funding universities receive as well as in framing the dialogue and infrastructure for higher education funding in the future. CUSG will certainly be working to bring the students' voices to this issue and others this session. Get in touch with our Legislative Affairs Directors Richa Poudyal and Ali Skewes-Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alexandra.email@example.com if interested in getting involved.
Richa Poudyal and Ali Skewes-Cox are the CUSG Directors of Legislative Affairs.