Colorado college and university students could face tuition hikes from 9.5 percent at the University of Colorado to 25 percent at Adams State College if state funding continues to plummet.
Responding to a Colorado Open Records Act Request, the Colorado Department of Higher Education released details of proposed tuition increases at these and other Colorado colleges Wednesday.
Department spokeswoman Dawn Taylor Owens said the Colorado School of Mines is the only eligible school that hasn't asked permission to raise tuition above the 9 percent hike allowed by state lawmakers.
She said a waiver from Mesa State College was not accepted because it did not specify a tuition increase amount. Mesa State said only that it would not increase rates if state funding remained the same.
Mesa State president Tim Foster said he will fight attempts by director Rico Munn and the Department of Higher Education to deny their waiver request.
"Is his goal to drive tuition higher? If it is, we're going to fight with him. He's saying he wants us to submit a plan that would raise tuition more than 9 percent," Foster said.
Munn told college presidents that the budget won't be set until next year and they could modify their proposals next March, but if colleges fail to submit an acceptable plan, they cannot submit a new one next year. The deadline was last week.
A 9.5 percent increase would add $667 to undergraduate tuition in CU's College of Arts and Sciences, which enrolls most students. The annual bill would rise to $7,685.
Adams State said if state funding is cut 19 percent in 2011, it would be forced to raise tuition 25 percent next year, 20 percent the following year, 12 percent in fiscal year 2013-14 and 9 percent the following two years. Under that plan, resident tuition would go from $2,952 this year to $3,690 next year, soaring to $5,892 in 2015.
Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the CU Board of Regents, said the waiver plan was "a pre-emptive measure" in case the state is forced to cut its budget by another $1.1 billion or more next year. The budget this year is $18.2 billion.
CSU president Tony Frank said the university is preparing for the worst, which could require a 20 percent increase next year, from $5,256 to $6,307 for in-state students.
"Let's be clear, we know that any change like this means an increase in cost to the people writing tuition checks, no matter what we call the plan. Given the dire state of Colorado's budget, we can expect that tuition will rise, but all of us at CSU are well aware that a lot of our students and their families are struggling, and that's not something we take lightly," Frank said.