A large chunk of University of New Mexico students could pay extra tuition next school year under a budget proposal heading to the university’s Board of Regents.
The board’s Finance and Facilities subcommittee, which consists of three of the seven regents, unanimously approved several budget recommendations at a meeting on Tuesday. Regents are scheduled to vote on the entire university’s roughly $3 billion budget next week.
One recommendation is to add “differential tuition” to the tab of students with a major in the College of Arts and Sciences, a broad field of studies with departments that include chemistry, anthropology, English, American Studies, economics and others.
About 8,000 students, roughly 40 percent of the undergraduate student body, have a major within that college, said Richard Wood, the interim provost.
The proposed differential tuition for Arts and Sciences is $10 per credit hour for all students who have declared a major within that college. That would amount to about $300 per student per year and is expected to generate about $1.7 million per year.
The proposed Arts and Sciences tuition increase has been in the works for some time. Mark Peceny, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said college officials have been meeting with students who would have to pay the differential tuition and collecting student surveys and feedback on how best to spend the money for two years. He said the money raised from the tuition increase will be used for faculty retention and hiring and 20 percent will go to financial aid.
“The students are on board with it because we are using the money for student-support initiatives,” Wood said. “That’s critical. This isn’t going to administration. It’s all going to advising, student support, financial aide and all that stuff.”
Differential tuition is extra tuition for students with certain majors, such as those in the engineering and business schools, which already pay a differential. It is intended to help those colleges compete with other institutions, use laboratories, maintain a low student-faculty ratio or do other things, according to the university’s website. The extra tuition has to be requested by departments or programs and approved by university officials, from college deans to the president and ultimately the regents.
The extra tuition for the Arts and Sciences is just one of the recommendations that have been proposed by a “budget leadership team”which is comprised of university officials and representatives from faculty and students on campus..
The team has worked to craft a budget recommendation for the university president that doesn’t increase the base tuition for students at the university, according to university documents. There are likely to be some cost increases though, which will come by way of fee increases and extra tuition tacked onto students depending on their field of study and how advanced they are in their studies. Extra fees tend to increase for the more advanced classes.
“We think it’s important for UNM to be as competitive as possible at the early stages — freshmen and sophomores,” said Craig White, the interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. “There’s a lot of places where a student could (go) and we want them to be able to be here and get in the door and be working toward their degree at UNM.”