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UNM-LA board votes to raise fees

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Educuation > Hike must be approved by the Board of Regents

By Tris DeRoma

The advisory board of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos campus unanimously voted Monday to raise tuition by 6.31 percent.
The proposal will be sent to the UNM Board of Regents for final approval.
If approved by the regents, the increase translates into an extra $4.75 per credit hour for classes for New Mexico residents. Now, residents will be paying $74 per credit hour to take classes at the school.
Non-residents will be paying $205 per credit hour at UNM-LA, which translates into a net increase of $6 per credit hour.
Before the vote, UNM-LA’s CEO Wynn Goering told the board why the hike is necessary. Factoring into the hike are the amount of educational funding the state legislature is expected to distribute to higher education this year, enrollment levels and property taxes.
“For better or worse, Los Alamos County this past year was one of the few counties in the state whose valuation went down…what that means to the (UNM-LA) branch is that’s a decrease in the amount of revenue we have available,” Goering said to the board.
Other driving factors included the recent dramatic tuition hikes of other regional community colleges, such as Northern New Mexico College.
“As we look at what any rational business would say is your market…it looks like to us that we should be charging more than other branch campuses given where we are and who we serve,” Goering said.
However, Goering also added through a written statement to the board that while the increase is expected to bring in $50,000 in new revenues for the campus, it still may not be enough to overcome the campus’s operational costs.
“The fixed costs associated with utilities, employee benefits, administrative support to UNM Albuquerque, elevator inspections and outsourced contracts for the security system and custodial services will increase,” Goering said in the statement. “We currently anticipate an increase of $52,000 in the fixed costs, pending final decisions by the state and UNM-Albuquerque.”
When other costs are factored in, that $2,000 deficit increases to around $18,000, leaving roughly a $20,000 deficit in next year’s budget the campus has to deal with, which Goering said his administration will fix.
“We will avoid layoffs at all costs, and we will look for either one-time funds or budgeting a prudent amount of reserve funds to make that up,” he said the board.
The new tuition schedule, if approved, will go into effect this fall.