Board OKs tuition hike effective with summer semester

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The cost to attend UNM-LA will go up by 9 percent

By Kirsten Laskey

Those bumper stickers with the phrase, “my kid and my money go to (a) university” will pack even more of a punch in upcoming semesters as institutions of higher education grapple with budget shortfalls. 

At UNM-LA, the advisory board approved a 9 percent increase in tuition during its meeting Monday. This would make the fee $53.50 per credit hour, which will go into effect with the 2010 summer semester. 

Executive Director Cedric Page said despite the increase, students are still getting a quality education at a good price. Compared to other college branches, he said, “We’re still a pretty good deal as far as per credit charge.”

Raising tuition is not unique to UNM-LA, in fact students across New Mexico and across the nation are having to pay more for higher education.

Campus Resources Director Lisa Clough said after the meeting that the tuition increase is defined as a state appropriated deduction (SAD) pass through.

The state, she said, has reduced resources for the college and basically has imposed an increase in the “cost of attendance” and that cost is being forced on students in the form of a tuition increase.

Using a hypothetical $100, Clough explained how this mandate works. The state gives $100 and then the next year only provides $90. However, she said, the state expects you to make up that $10 difference from another revenue source.

This is what the university is facing, Clough said. The state is passing the shortfall onto students while the university is expected to deliver the same level of instruction. There is no change in services.

Since UNM-LA is still a good deal, students seem to be handling the increase well, Clough said.

She said people enrolled at UNM-LA have heard from friends around the country that some colleges are implementing much higher rates. For instance, colleges in California are raising tuition as much as 30 percent.

“As painful as the 9 percent is,” Clough said, “it could be worse.”

Additionally, she does not expect enrollment to fall because this is a situation that every institution of higher education is experiencing.

UNM-LA, she added, is still trying to keep things affordable.

Students are not the only ones who are affected by the budget shortfall. During the meeting, Clough reported that each department was requested to submit budgets that were reduced by 5 to 10 percent. She said they were all very responsible and took a look at what they would be able to reduce.

Next year’s budget balances the college’s needs and revenue.

“I think we have been responsible making sure our programs’ expenditures meet our programs’ revenues,” he said.

Board chairman Nelson Hoffman complimented UNM-LA on being thrifty. “I commend you on really hacking away at your budget,” he said.

Despite balancing the budget, UNM-LA is not clear of any future threats of reductions in the state appropriations.

“We know that there is still an outstanding shortfall at the state due to the line item veto by the Governor,” Clough said. “So we fully expect another cut from the state and we don’t have a plan as to how we will be able to respond to that.”

Board member Marie Chiravalle commented during the meeting that it seems like the state government has forced the college to make across the board cuts with its budget. She recommended that the advisory board come up with some strategies. “I don’t see any other alternative,” she said.

Board member Micheline Devaurs wondered if the tuition should be raised higher. Clough commented if rates are further hiked, there is a risk of not generating a whole lot more in revenue. Students understand the 9 percent raise is due to a state directive. If an additional raise is made, she said, they might question the reason behind the increase.

If fees such as for courses, technology or the library are increased, Page suggested including students in that conversation.

Having to be put into this position of asking for more  money from students is tough, Clough said. “We just think that this is unfortunate. It almost takes the decision out of our hands,” she said.