The bill that would give Colorado higher education
institutions greater autonomy in setting tuition and other fiscal procedures received
preliminary approval from the state House on Friday, leaving few hurdles
remaining before it becomes law.
Senate Bill 10-003, passed
by the Senate last Wednesday in a 34-1 vote, seeks to buffer colleges
against a likely $300 million funding cut next year. Under the bill,
colleges and universities would be allowed to raise tuition up to 9 percent a
year without waiting for legislative approval, and boost it even higher with
approval from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). The bill
would also give colleges greater flexibility in allocating financial aid and in
managing their own financial affairs.
To get approval from the CCHE for higher tuition increases,
colleges would be required to submit a financial and accountability plan to the
CCHE detailing the increase and showing how they would increase access to
Colorado residents; improve student success, including employment after
graduation; improve quality of services and instruction; and improve
efficiency. In addition, institutions would need to show how access and
affordability would be maintained for low- and middle-income students.
The tuition-specific provisions of the bill would be
repealed after four years, per an amendment backed by Gov. Bill Ritter.
Colleges and universities would also receive more fiscal
flexibility under the bill, with exemptions from state central purchasing
requirements and restrictions on the rehiring of retired employees, as well as
the ability to manage their own debts, contracts, construction projects and
real estate transactions.
President Stephen Jordan is among the college presidents
who have been meeting with legislators and other higher-education leaders to
provide input on the bill. “The bill gives us a short-term fix,” said Jordan,
“but we still have much work to do to work out a long-term solution to how
higher education is funded in Colorado.”
bill passed on second reading in the House on Friday. It is expected to
receive full House approval this week, before the legislative session ends on
Wednesday, and to be signed into law by Gov. Ritter.
Top of Page