The CU Board of Regents on April 8 voted to approve recommendations on tuition, compensation and fees for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The plan calls for, in effect, a 0% tuition rate change for undergraduate students.
The latest round of federal relief funds makes this new approach possible compared to the initial budget proposed to the board in February, when administration had recommended a 3% tuition increase for students. As recommended to the board at last week’s meeting, held virtually, the 3% tuition increase will be “bought down” by the campuses’ one-time use of relief funds for the coming fiscal year for undergraduate students.
Graduate students also will also see relief from the proposal.
Along with tuition being kept effectively flat this coming year, aid available to students will increase significantly due to the infusion of federal relief funds.
As CU President Mark Kennedy noted during last week’s meeting, the action will keep undergraduate resident tuition flat for the fourth consecutive year. When adjusted for inflation, student out-of-pocket costs are 20% below what they were in 2014.
Highlights of what each campus is doing for student affordability:
- University of Colorado Boulder provides a four-year tuition guarantee, which allows undergraduate students and their families to count on the same rate of tuition for four consecutive years. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, CU Boulder has extended the guarantee for one more year for all cohorts of current CU Boulder guarantee students.
- University of Colorado Colorado Springs offers the Chancellor Merit Scholarship, a four-year renewable scholarship at $2,500 per year encouraging on-time graduation.
- University of Colorado Denver has made a $5 million increase in annual institutional financial aid since the 2017-18 fiscal year.
- University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus offers the Charles J. Blackwood Memorial Endowed Scholarship fund, announced in February 2021, which will provide full scholarship funding and matching funds from President Kennedy for at least four medical students from underrepresented backgrounds who are committed to the African American community.
While potential base-building compensation percentage increases for faculty and staff remain in doubt until later in the year, Classified Staff will see a 3% increase beginning July 1 (as called for by the state), and faculty and exempt staff will receive a payment equal to 2% of their compensation from July 1 through December 31.
As presented by administration, the budget also allows for potential compensation increases for faculty and exempt staff – ranging between 1% and 3% – in the next calendar year. Revenue thresholds would need to be met in order for those increases to be granted; those thresholds will be determined based on fall enrollment figures, expected in September, with the increases potentially taking effect for a new Jan. 1-Dec. 31 compensation cycle. (CU Anschutz is the exception, as its compensation cycle will continue to match the fiscal year.)
The board voted 6-2 for the tuition proposal and related student fees proposal, with Regents Heidi Ganahl and Chance Hill against. The compensation proposal passed 5-3, with Regent Sue Sharkey joining Ganahl and Hill in voting no. Chair Glen Gallegos did not attend the meeting.
In total dollar amount of lost revenue and increased costs at higher education institutions across Colorado over the past 13 months, the CU system was hardest hit. Federal relief covered $163.9 million of the $420.8 million gap, leaving the CU system with a $256.9 million shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year. A hiring chill, furloughs, funding from reserves and other reductions were used to balance the budget.
Determining projected student enrollment has grown more challenging since the pandemic began over a year ago. If fall 2021 enrollment is lower than expected, campuses would again consider the use of hiring delays, furloughs, layoffs, budget reductions and other measures. If fall 2021 enrollment is higher than expected, campuses would consider increases in compensation or personnel, restoration of operating reductions and cuts, reserves replenishment and other investments.
In other business at last week’s Board of Regents meeting:
- The Board of Regents formally approved revisions to Policy 11.E: Leave Policies for Faculty and Staff as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 20-205 known as the “Healthy Families and Workplaces Act” which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees under various circumstances. The changes are approved retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021; see related story here: Sick leave will expand to all CU employees starting Jan. 1. For more detailed information, go to https://www.cu.edu/regents/rlpreview#tabs-2.
- Six of this year’s 12 Distinguished Professors – Terrance Boult, Penina Axelrad, Mitchell Begelman, Jeffrey Cox, Katharine Suding and Wendy Kohrt – appeared and were formally recognized by the board.
- Read more on the meeting in CU Boulder Today and CU Denver News.