CU Boulder eyes 3% to 4% tuition hikes for incoming freshmen

Feb. 9—Incoming freshmen at the University of Colorado Boulder this fall may be looking at a 3% to 4% tuition increase compared to the fee for incoming students from the previous school year.

A 3% increase equates to an additional $359 per year and a 4% increase to $479 per year. The tuition increase for new in-state freshmen is predicted to be between 3% and 4%, and out-of-state freshmen will likely see a tuition increase of 4%. Graduate students may see a 3% tuition increase. Tuition for existing undergraduate students will not change due to CU Boulder's four-year tuition rate guarantee.

The tuition increases are dependent on state funding. The state is in the middle of its budget deliberations as it considers budget requests for the next fiscal year, and final decisions will be made in late March. The University of Colorado Board of Regents, the elected body that oversees the CU System, will vote on whether to approve CU's budget in April.

"The more the state is able to do, the more we are able to keep the tuition in check," CU President Todd Saliman said. "And that's the story at the University of Colorado and every college and university throughout the state."

CU's budget, presented by CU System Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano on Friday, includes proposed changes to tuition, fees and compensation for all four CU campuses in the upcoming fiscal year.

Regent Glen Gallegos said he's concerned about the public perception that CU is "outpricing" itself with tuition increases and that people feel like a CU education is out of reach. Increases in tuition and fees in any amount affect students and their families, he said.

"Three percent doesn't sound like much, but I think that feeling is there," Gallegos said, adding, "I think it's important for the public to recognize how much help is available on the campuses as well."

Saliman said the issue of affordability with a CU education is something he hears from people in Colorado.

"That is definitely an issue that we hear about throughout the state, that the cost of going to college continues to be an issue, and it definitely costs more to go to any college in Colorado than any of us would like," Saliman said. "But, there's also a perception that it costs much more than it actually does."

In the most recent year, Marturano said, the CU System provided more than $242 million in financial aid, which is more than Colorado's appropriation for need-based financial aid state-wide. CU offers affordability resources for people at cu.edu/affordability, including informational links and a personalized net price calculator.

"We're all working as hard as possible to make (CU) as affordable as possible," Regent Callie Rennison said.

CU Boulder's guaranteed four-year locked tuition rate prevents existing students from seeing their tuition increase; however, CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said he's concerned about keeping that guarantee alive.

"I do worry about sustaining over time the guaranteed rate with tuition increases of 3% or 3.5% each year, and that's something we'll have to work on," DiStefano said.

CU Boulder is also proposing salary increases for faculty and staff. Classified employees, part of the state's personnel system, will each see a 3% raise per state requirements. University faculty and staff will likely see a 4% increase in the merit pool, which is the designated sum of money for raises that employees can earn.

Marturano also presented enrollment projections. Overall enrollment is expected to increase by 0.5% at CU Boulder in the next academic year due to higher retention of existing students and an anticipated increase of incoming in-state freshmen.

Housing and dining fees are proposed to increase at 5% for residence hall standard room and board, a 2.8% increase for Bear Creek apartments and a 3% increase for graduate and family housing. Any changes to the student activity fees or the fees charged on behalf of the CU Student Government are undetermined.

The minimum wage for staff, which increased from $15 an hour to $18 in the previous year, is proposed to stay the same. The minimum wage for students, set at $16 an hour, will also remain the same.

This year, CU Boulder is seeing an additional almost $19 million more in revenue than planned. This is because of overall enrollment increases and improved student retention rates. The majority of the additional revenue will be allocated through the campus budget model to the individual schools and colleges experiencing the increased enrollment.

Budget changes and increases proposed on Friday will not be finalized until the Regents meeting in April. For more information, visit go.boarddocs.com/co/cu/Board.nsf/Public.