CU looks to keep tuition increases low

Regents hear proposals for tuition rates, potential salary increases for faculty, staff

For the second consecutive year, proposed tuition increases for all University of Colorado campuses came in significantly below the 6 percent cap mandated by the state Legislature for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years. The budget calls for between 3 percent and 3.7 percent in tuition increases and up to a 3 percent salary increase for university employees.

The Office of the Vice President for Budget and Finance presented the proposed budget to the CU Board of Regents at its Feb. 20 meeting at CU-Boulder. The board will vote on the budget at its March 30 meeting at the system offices at 1800 Grant St., Denver.

“Our systemwide budget priorities are very similar this year to what they were last year, minimizing tuition increases, and clearly identifying changes in costs,” said Todd Saliman, vice president and chief financial officer.

The increases are among the lowest at CU over the past decade; tuition climbed as much as 8.7 percent two years ago.

Proposed tuition increases for each campus:

 Campus Percent increase Cost per 30 hours Difference
 CU-Boulder 3 $9,320 $272
 CU Colorado Springs 3.5 $7,980 $270
 CU Denver lower division      
    (freshmen, sophomores) 3.7 $9,090 $330
    upper division 0 $9,420 $0

“If these are approved by the board, these would be very low tuition rate increases compared to what we’ve seen over the past decade,” Saliman said. Across the state for FY 2014-15, only the Colorado School of Mines, at 2.7 percent, had a lower tuition increase than any CU campus.

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus’ proposed tuition increases varied by school and programs. The School of Medicine asked for increases between 3 percent (medical or physical therapy doctorate, an additional $1,039 per credit hour) and 31.9 percent (anesthesiology, an additional $150-$240 per credit hour). The School of Dental Medicine seeks a 3.8 percent increase and the College of Nursing seeks between 3.5 percent and 4.8 percent in tuition increases.

The low tuition increases are in response to an anticipated 10 percent increase, or $107.1 million, in state funding through Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed FY 2015-16 budget. If passed, it would mean an additional $16.6 million for the university: $6.3 million for CU-Boulder, $2 million for CU Colorado Springs, $2.6 million for CU Denver and $5.7 million for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Office of Budget and Finance also recommended salary merit increases of 3 percent for faculty and exempt staff in addition to a state-mandated 3 percent (1 percent COLA; 2 percent merit) for classified staff. If approved, the salary increases would total $26.8 million.

Saliman also presented a secondary scenario should the state approve only a 5 percent increase for higher education instead of the governor’s proposed 10 percent increase that’s being discussed by the Joint Budget Committee. In that case, mandatory cost increases to the budget for classified staff salary and benefits for all employees would be about $4.4 million, with no salary increases for faculty or exempt staff.