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CMC board approves tuition increase

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees, meeting at its Rifle campus Monday, agreed to increase student tuition beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.

The CMC board voted 4-3 to raise tuition $3 per credit hour, or 5.6 percent, to $56 for students living within the college district, including Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, Routt, Lake and Summit counties.

Tuition for students from elsewhere in Colorado will go up $6 per credit hour (6.7 percent) to $95, and out-of-state students will see an increase of $20, or 7.1 percent, to $299 per credit hour.

The tuition increase will not affect CMC’s new upper-division bachelor’s degree program classes, which were just implemented for the current academic year.

According to Linda English, CMC’s vice president for finance, the tuition increases are needed to offset projected cuts in state revenue next year of between $270,000 and $300,000. In addition, the college is preparing for increasing utility, insurance and service contract costs for technology, she said.

While most of the special college district’s funding comes from property taxes, the other two major sources are state funding and tuition.

Property taxes also have decreased about 25 to 30 percent across the district due to lower property valuations.

“If state revenues are falling and property taxes are flat, as we expect, a modest increase in tuition combined with continued conservative budgeting can offset those increased costs,” English said. “This will allow us to maintain funding so that we can continue to provide quality support for students and a high-value education.”

Even with the increase, CMC President Stan Jensen noted that CMC remains the best education value in the state compared with other community colleges and four-year schools. Under the new tuition rate, a full-time, in-district student will pay $1,680 per year.

Tuition increases at other colleges and universities in the state have been in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 percent, Jensen also noted.

The CMC board was split on whether to approve the tuition hike. Voting in favor were CMC trustees Anne Freedman, Robert Taylor, Pat Chlouber and Glenn Davis. Opposed were the two Garfield County board representatives, Kathy Goudy and Mary Ellen Denomy, and Ken Brenner.

At the board’s January meeting, Goudy asked for more cuts in college administration to be considered first before hiking tuition. Monday’s decision had been postponed from that meeting.

Other board members felt students shouldn’t bear any more of the financial burden after multiple years of tuition increases, Jensen said.

Those supporting the increase indicated that a smaller tuition hike now is better than a substantially bigger one next year if the funding situation doesn’t improve, he said.

Some of the money from the tuition increase also is to be used to bolster local financial aid and scholarship programs, Jensen said.

CMC expects to have about $700,000 available next year for local student assistance, including private funding, he said.

Meanwhile, CMC enrollment continued to go up this year, and the college anticipates another 4 to 7 percent increase in full-time-equivalent students heading into next year, Jensen said.

Also at the Monday meeting, the CMC board voted to increase room and board between 1.99 and 3.72 percent.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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