Tuition debate: UNM Regents considers tuition hike

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state gave record funding to higher education this year, but the University of New Mexico said it’s not enough, which is sparking new debate over another possible tuition hike.

The debate unfolded Thursday in a regents meeting. While the university said the extra money would cover so-called “must-fund expenses.” Top state education officials say it’s not needed. “There will be inflation, the feds rule is to make it 2%, so there will be increased costs for the institution, the cost increases will be real,” said Dr. James Paul Holloway, Provost and Executive.

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UNM’s provost detailed continued financial pressures the university’s expecting and how that’s led to a newly proposed 3% tuition hike despite getting more state funding this year. “Counting on one-time money we aren’t going to hire faculty, we aren’t going to pay for the important recurring costs of our staff, it actually is a vote for a poor-quality education for our students,” said Teresa Costantinidis, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration for UNM.    

The governor’s latest budget put over a billion dollars into college and university operations and another $324 million for higher education facilities. Because of that the New Mexico Higher Education Department said it’s against UNM’s possible tuition hike.

“We do understand that operational costs in higher education like every sector have gone up. Which is why we continue to increase the operational budgets at the state for public colleges and universities every year so that those costs don’t get passed along to the students or drain our scholarship funding,” said Cabinet Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez, New Mexico Higher Education Department.       

Student Regent Victor Reyes also opposes the possible hike saying it’s unfair to pass cost increases to students.  “I think it’s unconscionable to look at a tuition increase that would impact a third of our students that would impact some of our hardest hit students when we have the reserves the surplus that we have,” said Victor Reyes, Student Regent, UNM Board of Regents.

After extensive discussion this morning the tuition hike idea died, failing to garner enough support to take it to a full board of regents vote. “It shows that we’re not going to take advantage of our state and our funding and where we are now and we’re actually going to use our operational dollars that we received to do what we need to do,” said Sec. Rodriguez.

While UNM regents didn’t even vote on the tuition hike Thursday, the board’s chair, Kim Rael did say the matter could be discussed again in the future. Last year, UNM regents also considered a possible three-percent tuition hike, which was also rejected. However, the board did approve a three-percent increase in student fees in 2023.      

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