Regents OK tuition hike, employee raises

University of New Mexico Regent Robert L. Schwartz, left, university President Garnett Stokes and Regents Douglas M. Brown and Kimberly Sanchez Rael listen to comments about a tuition hike Monday morning on campus

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Tuition will increase slightly next year and so will employee paychecks under budget guidelines approved Monday by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents.

Regents won’t approve an entire university budget until May, but this week they set important rates that will affect the budget: how much students will pay to go there and how much employees will make.

In the next fiscal year, base tuition will increase 2.6%, and there will be a reduction to the discount offered to in-state students who take more than 15 credit hours per semester. Also, university employees will receive raises of about 4%, although details of how the raises will be spread over the entire workforce were unclear.

The budget guidelines are assuming a 6% decline in UNM enrollment next fall. And while officials say they are hopeful the student population won’t drop that much, they said they are taking a conservative approach to try to ensure that projected tuition revenue materializes.

University of New Mexico students on campus on Monday, the day the school’s Board of Regents approved a 2.6% tuition increase for the next fiscal year. The regents also signed off on raises for university employees.

At the start of this school year, the university had to use about $4 million in reserves to plug shortfalls that were the result of UNM enrollment dropping about 7% from the year before.

“There’s a history lesson that’s a part of this budget,” Regent Sandra Begay said.

The guidelines reflect what had previously been recommended by a Budget Leadership Team made up of faculty, staff and student representatives. The recommendations had been considered and approved by regent committees last week.

Teresa Costantinidis, the senior vice president for finance and administration, said not raising tuition would force the university to reduce the budget by about $10 million.

UNM’s main campus is expecting about $208 million in state appropriations next year, which is about a 13% increase from the current year, and about $114 million in tuition revenue, which is comparable to what it generated in tuition this year.

But Provost James Holloway said that even with the guidelines approved Monday, university leaders over the coming weeks and months will have to trim about $10 million from main campus spending. He said that process will take into consideration which academic programs are seeing growth, which units have reserves and other factors. He said the cuts won’t be spread evenly across the main campus.

“Historically, UNM has gone for across-the-board cuts,” he said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

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