For most students, rising tuitions are the largest obstacle to a CU education. In 2000, the state covered two-thirds of the cost of college, while students and families were responsible for one third. Resident tuition and fees at CU Boulder were just $3,188. Today, the state covers only a third while students pay for two-thirds, and tuition and fees have quadrupled to $12,602.
Colorado ranks 48th in the country in funding for higher education with CU getting just 5% of its budget from the state. If we want to maintain our highly educated workforce and do right by our residents, we must reverse this public defunding of higher education. I have always been an advocate for public funding of higher education, and I will push the legislature to restore funding to pre-recession levels as your Regent.
That being said, there are several actions the Board can take to ease the financial burden on our students.
In 2016, CU Boulder instituted guaranteed tuition for resident students. Tuition for incoming freshmen this fall will remain locked in at the same rate for four years, giving families the predictability they need to plan for the significant expense of college. I would like to see CU offer this across all four campuses so that families can plan ahead rather than being surprised by 4, 5, and 6% increases each year.
no Hidden class fees
CU Boulder also recently removed class fees, which are not published on the website that lists tuition and mandatory fees. Students typically don’t see these until they get their bill. These fees add up and can be particularly onerous for STEM students, rising to $1,000 per year or more. As with guaranteed tuition, I would like to see CU lift these fees for students at all four campuses.
Some have argued that fixing inefficiencies and cutting waste in CU’s budget could significantly lower tuition. This is just not true. While the Board should always be looking for ways to streamline the budget, those minor adjustments will only help at the margins. That being said, I managed a $400 million budget while serving on the Boulder Valley School Board and had to grapple with the difficult decision of how to cut the budget 10% during the Great Recession. I will bring a fresh set of eyes to examine the $4.5 billion CU Budget to help prioritize spending and determine if further efficiencies can be realized.