Colorado Mountain College Trustees on Wednesday unanimously voted to increase student tuition for in-district and in-state students by $5 per credit hour for the 2020-21 academic year.
However, the Board of Trustees, meeting in Edwards, opted not to adopt a five-year, tiered tuition rate increase — the goal of which, according to college administrators, would be to keep up with rising costs.
Decisions on future tuition adjustments are better made in response to changing economic and enrollment trends in given years, rather than being pre-set for years to come, the board agreed.
“While college leadership is responsible for keeping costs at or below inflation, it is trustees’ responsibility to ensure we continue to offer programs, services and facilities that meet students’ and community needs,” Patty Theobald, CMC board president, said in a statement issued following the decision.
“In recent years, we have seen unprecedented graduation rates by CMC students, especially in the numbers of local graduates,” she said. “We believe that the 2020-21 tuition rates allow us to strike a balance among our classic affordability, exceptional quality, small classes and personalized learning.”
In addition to the in-district and in-state/in-service-area tuition increase, the out-of-state student tuition rate is to increase by $13 per credit hour.
The decision to increase tuition comes on the heels of a CMC board decision in December to enact a new voter-authorized mechanism that allows the college district to increase its property tax mill levy in certain circumstances without going to voters.
Those increases can only be done to make up for revenue reductions in given years when the state’s residential property assessment rate is automatically lowered under Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment.
Last year, CMC trustees decided not to increase tuition for the current academic year, and even reduced the tuition rate for CMC’s limited bachelor degree programs by 28% the prior year.
Trustees looked at a range of different tuition options for next year, including setting tuition rates for five years, but decided against that approach.
With the tuition increase and a projected 2.5% increase in revenues coming from the state, CMC anticipates a 1.65% overall increase in revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
College administrators indicated at the Wednesday meeting that they would continue to work to bring down costs and to make financial aid available to students who have financial need.
College district staff recommended adopting the five-year tuition plan, and in a memo noted that tuition is the only revenue source over which the college has direct influence.
“All other sources of revenues are dictated by local and statewide economic and political factors outside of the direct influence of the college,” the memo states.
The memo also notes that, after the 2018 approval of Ballot Issue 7D regarding mill levy adjustments, commercial property owners asked that CMC spread the cost burden around more.
“Taxpayers feel they have done their part by voting for 7D,” the memo notes. “However, they are asking that students pay a larger, more proportionate share for their education, since they are currently paying only 13% of the total cost.”
Also Wednesday, CMC Trustees unanimously approved:
• New course fees of $50 to $80 for four individual courses in photography and biology.
• An increase of $100 per semester in the program fee for EMT Basic.
• An increase of 3.1% in dining fees and 5% in room fees for 2020-21, to cover inflationary increases in costs and scheduled capital improvements.
• A $1/credit hour increase in the Learning Materials Program fee (for leasing textbooks).