Possibility of new tuition hike to significantly affect UCCS
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 01:02
It is no secret these days that tuition increases exist for college students everywhere, every year. With a continuing recession that has affected the revenue streams of local and state governments, tuition costs must go up in order to make up for education cuts and to properly fund schools.
In the case of the CU system, the University of Colorado Boulder's tuition increased by 9.3 percent last year, while UCCS implemented a less significant 7 percent tuition raise.
As the new school year approaches, new tuition hikes are being proposed for both CU-Boulder and UCCS with 15 and 7 percent raises, respectively. But what exactly does the UCCS tuition hike proposal mean for students?
Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak elaborated on the tuition hikes and explained that the decisions are not final, as they must pass through the Board of Regents.
"These proposals are altered significantly," said Shockley-Zalabak. "There is great discussion involved in these processes."
Coinciding with last year's tuition hike, a salary pool was created to give faculty and staff members pay raises. Shockley-Zalabak defended the salary pool.
"It is absolutely true that faculties' and administrators' [income] are at a lower income than our peers," the Chancellor explained. "It's also true that of all our peer groups, we have least amount of funding. This places a higher burden on tuition and that's just a mathematical reality."
Shockley-Zalabak continued to give details about what exactly the proposal would cover.
"Tuition hike covers inflation," she said, "and if you don't pay your utility bill, that's a problem. We have a huge utility bill that has gone up, healthcare costs have gone up and insurance costs have gone up. Four percent [of the hike] covers that."
"The other piece is to cover an 8 percent cut from the state budget: the governor's budget proposal," Shockley-Zalabak continued. "As for the question regarding what percentage of the budget went to these raises, it was 1.38 percent."
Last year's tuition increase netted the CU system approximately $36 million in additional revenue, with $11.8 million of that money or about 33 percent set aside for the faculty and staff salary pool.
"The reality is that faculty and staff deserve raises," she went on to say. "They have not had raises in three years."
The salary pool funded a $24,878 (or 10 percent) raise for Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak. Other chancellors within the CU system received comparable increases, in the range of 6 to 14 percent.
Meanwhile, the possible raises for lower-ranked faculty and staff members are capped at just 3 percent. The total amount depends on their individual performance reviews, where a positive review would result in a maximum of a 3 percent increase.
Regardless of where the funds go, students are still affected by the tuition hike. Darcy Wallace-Judy, sophomore in geography, is a typical example of a student facing these increases.
"I'm going to get a job but I'll have to increase my financial aid, and it's especially hard for those who pay out of state tuition," Judy said.
Mark Alcantara, a freshman in mechanical engineering, has a similar story.
"I pay for my own things right now, but next year I'll be getting a job," he said.
Both students, however, have somewhat similar opinions.
"I support the proposal if it helps the faculty," said Judy. "If it doesn't really do that, then it's bull."
"I think they're doing it for a good reason," said Mark. "I don't want to assume it's bad just because it's a tuition hike."
Chancellor Shockley -Zalabak upholds that she is aware of the students' concerns.
"We do believe our students are stretched thin," she explained. "Are we trying to help? Yes. The university budget advisory committee is talking about how we can increase financial aid to make it as neutral as possible for students."
The Chancellor clarified that the committee does have to model it into the budget for next year, which cannot be completed until the long bill shows an "absolute, bottom line cut."
"We have to figure out exactly how much it would be – about 1.5 million dollars – and look up projections for inflation," she said. "There have been proposals and public discussions of tuition hikes, but there never is one until regents vote on them."
Students and everyone involved in paying tuition should mark April on their calendars when the vote for the tuition hike will occur.
"There's a meeting in March and after that we'll have a firm agenda for April when we know what the state tax cut is," she said.