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ASU trustees approve tuition hike

Posted: Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Dr. John Taylor’s theatre students performed a piece of their performance “Will Act for Change” on Friday morning for the Adams State University Board of Trustees meeting. Their plea was to end higher education costs that create “a lifetime of debt.” The trustees agreed, but had no other option but to raise tuition rates 16 percent. Courier photo by Lauren Krizansky

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Dr. John Taylor’s theatre students literally stomped into the Adams State University Board of Trustees (ASUBT) meeting on Friday morning demanding a halt to increasing tuition rates, and although their pleas were heard, they could not stop the hike from being approved.

The ASUBT unanimously passed the proposed 2013-2014 tuition, fee rates and operating budget that includes a 16-percent resident tuition rate increase, a 2-percent non-resident tuition rate increase in addition to several other budget adjustments.

Beginning this fall, full time resident undergraduates will pay $2,436 a semester, a $528 increase from the 2012-2013 academic year and full time non-resident undergraduate students will pay $5,252, a $360 increase. Part-time resident undergraduates will pay $185 a credit hour compared to $159 and part-time non-resident undergraduates will pay $628 a credit hour compared to $616.

With student fees included, residents undergraduates will pay a total of $3,724 and non-residents $6,540.

Nursing students and business students will also see a tuition rate increase. Nursing students will face a 35-percent increase with a credit hour now costing $250 instead of $185 and the latter will now pay $197 a credit hour versus $170.

Graduate tuition increases will vary by program, based on demand and market.

“Our goal was to keep tuition as low as possible without cutting services or academic programs for students,” said ASU President David Svaldi. “Our top priority is to make education accessible, which means keeping it affordable. To reduce the impact of the tuition increase, we recently created the San Luis Valley (SLV) Promise Award to cover full tuition and fees for the most needy, qualified students from our core service area.”

ASU will launch the SLV Promise Award program this fall. The program guarantees all qualified low-income students from the Valley region will receive sufficient financial aid to cover the entire cost of their tuition and fees, plus $1,350 for incidental educational expenses for the regular 2013-14 academic year. Today, about 300 students or 15-percent of the ASU student body qualify for the program.

Although ASU increased its tuition, it doesn’t necessarily mean more costs for the student since all of the previous “capital fees” have been rolled over into the tuition.

In addition, ASU’s housing and meal costs, and technology fees will also increase. Across the board, housing and meal costs increased roughly 5-percent. Technology fees increased a mere $1.

Other fee changes include a new parking/security fee for students taking more than six credit hours and a new $35 athletic fee for athletes.

The ASUBT also approved the 2013-2014 budget based on the tuition and fee adjustments. The budget includes $11.5 million in state general fund support and assumes stable enrollment, with no cost of living salary adjustment for faculty and exempt staff. The state funding follows the four-year cut trend, which has reduced ASU’s operating funds 25-percent, about $3.5 million, making the state’s overall 21-percent student financial aid cuts harder to bear.

In an effort to balance the 2013-2014 budget, ASU will transfer $300,000 from auxiliary services and the ASU Foundation will increase scholarship funding $25,000, which should assist the 97-percent of ASU students that receive a form of financial aid.

The budget also includes $956,000 in staffing and operating cuts implemented this year.

“Staffing cuts were achieved by freezing various vacant positions for the balance of this fiscal year through the following fiscal year,” said ASU Office of Finance and Governmental Relations Vice President Bill Mansheim. “These strategies allow us to balance the budget without having to lay off any individuals.”  

The budget also projects an additional $420,000 in salary and benefits savings next year because ASU will now hold positions that become open through attrition vacant for two months.

In response to the ASU students that asked the ASUBT to “stand with us” against tuition hikes because they are, in turn, committed to supporting the ASUBT, ASU Trustee Charles Scoggin reminded everyone of how hard the school works to accommodate all of its students’ needs.

“This institution spends so much time helping its students,” Scoggin said. “They get great quality at a low cost.”

ASU Trustee Arnold Salazar, who was not pleased with the 2013-2014 budget options, said that although it might pass today, the budget does not secure ASU’s financial future.

“I don’t want in any way to minimize the challenges in front of us,” Salazar said. “They (ASU students) are very sincere in what they are talking about. It is an important issue for us.”

ASU trustee Val Vigil added, “I am 100-percent in support of them (ASU students). We have no other choice other than the 16-percent increase... We can’t continue increasing the tuition rates. It is crazy.”

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