CMC board votes not to raise tuition |

CMC board votes not to raise tuition

Tuition rates at Colorado Mountain College will not be raised this fall, thanks to special funding expected from the state.

The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees voted unanimously not to raise tuition rates for the next academic year, hoping to capture around $1 million in state funding.

“For the record, this is because of the additional funding from the state, and is not designed to be a precedent of maintaining tuition at the same level in perpetuity,” Chris Romer, trustee for Eagle County, said just before the unanimous roll-call vote Wednesday.

The college had considered raising tuition rates this year, which would have increased revenue by $400,000, according to a staff memo. In 2018, the board equalized tuition for bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs — which required a decrease in higher-level tuition costs and an increase in associates-level course costs.

“It is wonderful to be able to keep tuition flat in this changing economic environment,” board President Patricia Theobald said.

Tuition for the 2019-20 academic year will remain at $80 per credit hour for in-district students, $170 for those in CMC’s service area, $180 for other Colorado residents and $453 for out-of-state students.

Polis’ budget released in January allocates $121 million for the flat tuition program, aimed at addressing student loan debt in the short term while the state considers other ways to reduce tuition burden.

The increase in state funds is part of a program first proposed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper last year and was included in Gov. Jared Polis’ first proposed budget.

“This money is to relieve the pressure on our current students, it is not a substitute for a serious policy and stakeholder process to get a grip on the cost drivers of higher education that are leaving our students saddled with debt they cannot afford,” according to Polis’ budget request memo. “A one-year tuition freeze is not a solution.”

Also contributing to the board’s confidence in keeping tuition flat is the chance to use the authority — granted by voters in November — to adjust a mill levy when the state changes the property tax assessment rate.

Based on a recent preliminary residential assessment rate for 2019, CMC staff expects to change the mill levy from 3.997 to 4.080 to recoup revenue that would have disappeared when the state reduces the rate this year. The final report from the Department of Local Affairs will not be released until April.

Between the ballot measure authority and the governor’s incentive to keep tuition flat, college staff thought it was right to postpone any tuition increase.

CMC board also approved in new fees for some hands-on classes like welding and law enforcement weapons training, raised room fees and increased meal plan costs.

The board voted to increase room rates, which apply to the residencies at Steamboat, Leadville and Spring Valley campuses, by 5 percent to $2,708 for double rooms.

The increase will help fund remodels for about 65 percent of the rooms that have not been remodeled. The residence halls were built in 1997, and insurance, utilities and maintenance costs continue to rise.

“Every year we see incremental cost increases in these operating expenses,” said Shane Larson, vice president of student affairs, in a memo.

The food service cost was also increased at each of the campuses with residence halls. Most meal plans were increased by around 3.5 percent.

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