Metro State received word on Thursday that its tuition plans for the next five years had been approved by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). The approval grants the College a certain measure of financial certainty, very welcome after the budget tumult of the past several years.
The College submitted its plans in compliance with Senate Bill 10-003 (aka the Tuition Flexibility Bill), which allows colleges to raise undergraduate tuition up to 9 percent per year for the next five years and above 9 percent with CCHE approval of a college’s Financial Accountability Plan (FAP). The FAP must demonstrate that affordability and access will be protected for middle- and lower-income students. The CCHE found that Metro State’s FAP complied with all the requirements and demonstrated strategic vision.
As President Stephen Jordan informed the Board of Trustees (BOT) at its Nov. 3 meeting, nine institutions submitted plans to the CCHE in October, but only three were approved: Metro State, Colorado State University and Fort Lewis College.
Jordan, Vice President for Administration, Finance and Facilities Natalie Lutes and Financial Aid Director Cindy Hejl presented the FAP on Monday, Nov. 1 to a three-member FAP Review Subcommittee of the CCHE. Jordan said the subcommittee was “exceptionally complimentary about the thought that went into (Metro State’s) plan.” The subcommittee recommended approval to the full CCHE, which subsequently granted it at its Nov. 4 meeting.
The BOT, having reviewed the FAP at length at its Oct. 1 retreat, unanimously approved the FAP at its Nov. 3 meeting. BOT Chair Rob Cohen lauded the “quality and depth” of the plan, while Jordan cited the collaboration between Financial Aid and Administration and Finance in preparation of the plan as “a great example of the kind of work that can get done.”
Jordan called the five-year approval an “extraordinary step” on the part of the CCHE. Metro State’s and CSU’s plans were approved for five years; Fort Lewis’s for two. The subcommittee is still reviewing applications from other institutions.
Metro State’s FAP recommends a 16.4 percent net increase in tuition for FY 2011-12. The increase includes a 21 percent increase in resident tuition, along with an accompanying conversion to tuition of a number of mandatory fees. For FY 2012-13, the plan calls for a straight 13 percent increase in resident tuition, and assumes a 9 percent increase in the remaining three years. (Read the full FAP in the Nov. 3 BOT minutes, beginning on page 29.)
While the FAP is approved, it is not necessarily final. Should there be a significant change in budget projections based on the spring (2011) forecast, colleges will have an additional opportunity for adjustments to approved FAPs.
Nevertheless, the approval does provide Metro State some measure of reliability.
“This creates for the first time for us some fiscal certainty for a five-year period about how much revenue we will have available into the future,” Jordan said.
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