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ASU faces budget deficit, raises tuition

Posted: Friday, Feb 8th, 2013

From left: Adams State University (ASU) Trustee Arnold Salazar, ASU Faculty Trustee Carol Guerrero-Murphy and ASU Trustee Tim Walters weigh in on raising tuition costs on Friday. The board approved an increase up to 16 percent.

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Without another solution in sight, the Adams State University (ASU) Board of Trustees reluctantly approved a tuition increase up to 16 percent to mitigate its budget deficit.

After a lengthy discussion on how the increase would both affect and serve ASU’s existing and future student body, the board voted to raise tuition at their regular meeting Friday morning. The new tuition rate will cost resident undergraduate students $25 more per credit hour, making for a $305 increase per semester for those enrolled full time, according to the ASU Financial Accountability Plan Amendment presented at the meeting. Non-resident students will see a two percent increase costing $12 more per credit hour and $148 a semester for full time students, and nursing courses will increase to $250 per credit hour, making for a $65 change.

The total revenue received from the increases totals $1,273,325, which covers the cash flow needed to set ASU on a path to recover from its $2,419,410 2013 budget shortfall, according to the amendment. Every one percent increase equals $70,000.

“This is the path we are being forced down,” said ASU Office of Finance and Governmental Relations Vice President Bill Mansheim. “It is not a pretty picture.”

Trustee Tim Walters, who at one point raised a motion to deny the increase that he later withdrew, repeatedly stressed his dislike of the proposal because it might stop students from enrolling at ASU because they don’t have the money.

“We can’t deny access to our institution,” Walters said. “I can’t compromise this.”

He added he believes the state is to blame for ASU’s budget woes. In recent years, Colorado has cut its higher education funding significantly.

“Just because we are down in the sticks, people from Chicago (like ASU Student Trustee Meagan Smith) can find us, but the state legislature can’t,” Walters said. “...What have they done? They dictate what we do and cost us more money.”

In response, Smith recommended facing the budget facts and focusing on attracting more students to Grizzly territory.

“It (tuition increases) is a scary thing,” Smith said. “We need to try to find things to keep more students here. There are a lot of people looking for small schools like this.”

In addition to the tuition increase, the board approved a one-time cash transfer of $200,000 and made cuts in several areas to balance the budget, according to the amendment. The cuts include $500,354 in vacant staffing positions, $331,000 in operations and $124,732 in travel.

“I will not do this again next year unless I’m involved in a discussion,” said Trustee Arnold Salazar. “We are going to price out the people we serve.”

Additional revenue changes include converting mandatory fees to tuition, $194,800; an increase in foundation support, $25,000; the implementation of an athletic fee, $70 an athlete, $20,000; increasing the off-campus matriculation fee $50 per individual, $25,000; changing late registration fee dates and cost to $50, $35,000; implementing an activation fee for suspension re-instatement, $7,875; and implementing a $50 parking/security fee, $200,000, according to the amendment. The total additional revenue projected from these changes is $507,675.

Mansheim explained the mandatory fee conversion. The fees are now included in tuition, which allows the money to filter through the general fund instead of being “pigeon-holed into a special purpose.”

“I don’t know if I would call it gravy, but at least it’s broth,” said ASU President Dave Svaldi. “It’s not something I want to do.”

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