More financial aid, student accountability help contain student debt

Regents hear how institutional support at CU has more than doubled in 10 years

Student debt is a continued concern, but efforts such as CU’s increased financial aid and steps students have taken to offset costs are helping to keep their debt in check, said Todd Saliman, vice president and chief financial officer.

Saliman told the Board of Regents at its Nov. 20 meeting at UCCS that in the past decade, the state’s investment in financial aid has seen a slight gain, from $14.1 million to $18.1 million, while institutional aid at CU has more than doubled, from $28.7 million to $63.2 million. Including federal grants and institutional aid from tuition, financial aid at CU has grown from $77.7 million in 2004 to $204.7 million in 2014.

Among students who took out loans, student debt at CU is lower than many institutions in the state – including Colorado School of Mines, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Mesa University. The CU debt level does not include CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, which includes medical student debt.

An indicator of CU student success is the loan default rate in the state and nation among students who entered repayment in 2009, 2010 or 2011, Saliman said. The cohort default rate nationally three years after entering repayment was 13.7 percent and the state’s was 14.6 percent. However, CU student default rates were well below the state and national averages:  CU-Boulder, 4.7 percent; UCCS, 2.7 percent; and CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, 5 percent.

Besides part-time employment, Saliman said, steps being taken by students to minimize student debt include living with their parents, additional roommates, earning college credit in high school or competency testing, alternative transportation, and remaining on their parents’ insurance plans.

See the complete presentation here.

In other business at the board’s meeting Nov. 19-20 at UCCS:

-          Todd Saliman, vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, updated the board on efforts related to House Bill 1319, which will result in 13 percent of state funding for higher education being allocated based on performance. He said a recommendation made to the state by CU and the state’s other institutions would result in CU receiving a funding increase of 10 percent in Fiscal Year 2016. “We should not bank on that, but it’s good news for us,” Saliman said. “Everyone agreed on the result.” The Colorado Commission on Higher Education is expected today to vote on whether to forward the formula as recommended to the Legislature, which opens the 2015 session on Jan. 7.

-          The board approved two new degrees at CU-Boulder, and name changes for two other degrees. Regents also approved $55 million in improvements to the CU-Boulder Engineering Center and Carlson Gymnasium. Read details at the CU-Boulder features page.

-          In her campus report to the board, Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak traced the history of UCCS from fledgling outpost to a robust institution with more than 11,000 students and an annual economic impact of more than $400 million. Read the story in Communique.

-          The board passed resolutions expressing appreciation to outgoing board members James Geddes and Joe Neguse, whose six-year terms end in January.

- Jay Dedrick contributed to this report.