Efficiency was the catchword during the budget and compensation presentation at Friday’s CU Board of Regents meeting at CU Denver. The board was given three possible scenarios for the university’s 2020-21 budget, including detail on tuition increases and employee raises. Todd Saliman, vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, noted this was the first look at the possibilities: The budget will be presented for preliminary approval at April’s board meeting, followed by final approval in June.
Saliman, the campus CFOs and their teams explored budget scenarios, all of which include a 3% tuition increase for undergraduate students (other than current undergraduate students at CU Boulder, who have a four-year tuition guarantee). Saliman noted the tuition rate change would help to cover inflationary cost changes.
Scenario A considers a state funding increase of 4% and a 3% tuition increase for undergraduate, resident students. It includes a 2% salary increase for classified staff (all campuses), a 3% merit pool for faculty/exempt at CU Boulder and CU Anschutz, and a 1% merit pool faculty/exempt at CU Denver and CU Colorado Springs.
Scenario B looks at a state funding increase of 2.5% and a 3% tuition increase for undergraduate, resident students. It calls for a 2% salary increase for classified staff (all campuses), a 3% merit pool for faculty/exempt at Boulder and CU Anschutz, and 1% merit pool for faculty/exempt at Denver and Colorado Springs.
Scenario C assumes a possible state funding increase of 6% and a 3% tuition increase for undergraduate, resident students. It includes a salary increase of 3% for classified (all campuses), and a 3% merit pool for faculty/exempt at Boulder and CU Anschutz, and 1% merit pool for faculty/exempt at Denver and Colorado Springs.
Budget reductions for CU Colorado Springs and CU Denver are planned due to enrollments coming in lower than expected. CU Colorado Springs has had a recent decline in enrollments and projects another decrease in the fall. CU Colorado Springs is planning for ongoing base cuts of $2.1 million. CU Denver is planning for ongoing base cuts of $2.5 million. It reported that some declines were caused by a tuition revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year. Both campuses are looking at strategies to secure future enrollments.
“When we were talking about the budget, we focus most on being efficient. We have to be efficient when it comes to the state funding.” Saliman said. “While the state has been working hard to make up for lost ground, the reality is that when you look at state funding compared to the year 2000, the per-student funding that CU gets for Colorado students has declined by over 50%.”
The other important piece of that is keeping operating expenses low, Saliman said.
“Even with the budget requests that we’re presenting to you, we’re going to have to rearrange resources internally to address many critical needs.”
Board Chair Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction, encouraged the university to dig deep and determine how to best serve its students with less funding over the long run.
“There’s never enough money and the state doesn’t know what it’s going to do with us. The future has been uncertain forever,” Gallegos said. “Every year I get tired of seeing that we’re 48th in the states (in per-student funding), but it's really up to us to change that dynamic. Because we have four campuses, 65,000-or-so students to graduate, we’ve got to find out how to do that without making the excuses that we make.”
President Mark Kennedy agreed on the importance of efficiencies.
“We’re going to be having to constantly be more efficient, even with an inflationary adjustment,” Kennedy said. “Without that, it's going to harm our ability to deliver on the talent and the discovery that the state needs, and that our students need, in order to succeed in their lives.”
The board will meet April 2-3 at CU Colorado Springs, where it will vote on tuition rates, fee rates and compensation.