April 8, 2021

CU Board of Regents set tuition rates

Buy down means tuition rate will not see an increase for fourth consecutive year

The University of Colorado Board of Regents today voted to approve recommendations on tuition, compensation and fees for 2021-22 fiscal year.  The plan that calls for, in effect, a 0% tuition rate change for undergraduate students.

The latest round of federal relief funds makes this new approach possible compared to the initial budget proposed to the board in February.  In February administration recommended a 3% tuition increase for students but without the newly proposed buy-down which takes the effective increase to 0% for FY 2021-22.

As recommended to the board today, the 3% tuition increase will be “bought down” by the campuses’ one-time use of relief funds for the coming fiscal year for undergraduate students. Graduate students will also see relief from the proposal.  Along with tuition being kept effectively flat this coming year, aid available to students will increase significantly due to the infusion of federal relief funds.

Highlights of what each campus is doing for student affordability:

  • University of Colorado Boulder provides a four-year tuition guarantee for all undergraduate students, enabling financial predictability for students and their families.
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs offers the Chancellor Merit Scholarship, a four-year renewable scholarship at $2,500 per year encouraging on-time graduation.
  • University of Colorado Denver has made a $5 million increase in annual institutional financial aid since the 2017-18 fiscal year.
  • University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus offers the Charles J. Blackwood Memorial Endowed Scholarship fund, announced in February 2021, which will provide full scholarship funding and matching funds from President Kennedy for at least four medical students from underrepresented backgrounds who are committed to the African American community.

While potential base building compensation percentage increases for faculty and staff remain in doubt until later in the year, Classified Staff will see a 3% increase beginning July 1 (as called for by the state), and faculty and exempt staff will receive a payment equal to 2% of their compensation from July 1 through December 31.

As presented by administration, the budget also allows for potential compensation increases for faculty and exempt staff – ranging between 1% and 3% – in the next calendar year. Revenue thresholds would need to be met in order for those increases to be granted; those thresholds will be determined based on fall enrollment figures, expected in September, with the increases potentially taking effect for a new Jan. 1-Dec. 31 compensation cycle. (CU Anschutz is the exception, as its compensation cycle will continue to match the fiscal year.)

In total dollar amount of lost revenue and increased costs at higher education institutions across Colorado, the CU system was hardest hit. Federal relief covered $163.9 million of the $420.8 million gap, leaving the CU system with a $256.9 million shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year. A hiring chill, furloughs, funding from reserves and other reductions were used to balance the budget.

Determining projected student enrollment has grown more challenging since the pandemic began over a year ago. If Fall 2021 enrollment is lower than expected, campuses would consider the following actions:

  • Personnel actions which could include continued hiring delays, position eliminations, continuous and intermittent furloughs, planned separations and retirements, layoffs
  • Operational budget reductions to travel, official functions, preventive and deferred maintenance, utilities, hardware and software
  • Reduction to planned increases to financial aid and investments in strategic campus priorities
  • Use of reserves and remaining contingency funds, including those that have been set aside for deferred maintenance and technology replacement
  • Pause to capital projects

If Fall 2021 enrollment is higher than expected, campuses would consider the following actions:

  • Compensation or personnel
  • Restore campus-wide operating reductions, to the extent possible
  • Restore operating cuts
  • Invest in strategic priorities and areas of need including institutional aid, deferred maintenance, equity and technology
  • Replenish reserves

Contact: Ken McConnellogue, 303-860-5626, Ken.McConnellogue@cu.edu