ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new tuition model at the University of New Mexico that increases the cost for some students by 13.2 percent will make way for the first salary increase for faculty and staff in four years.
UNM regents on Tuesday approved a new model, a tuition increase, an increase in student fees for athletics and a 3 percent raise for faculty. Also included in the budget was a 1 percent raise for staff along with a one-time, $1,000 in supplemental pay and additional permanent funding for struggling libraries to the tune of $466,000.
The vote, 5-2 with regents Conrad James and Heidi Overton dissenting, came after numerous hours of presentations and discussion.
The budget regents ended up approving for the fiscal year that starts July is $2.4 billion, including a Health Sciences Center budget of $1.5 billion.
In essence, UNM is changing the way it charges tuition so that students will pay per credit hour. Now, students pay for a total of 12 credit hours, but don’t pay extra for credits beyond that.
Tuition will cost less per credit hour for students who take 15 hours or more, while students who take less than 15 credit hours will pay a higher rate. The goal is to get students to graduate faster and accrue less student debt, while increasing the university’s four-year graduation rate of 15 percent and six-year rate of 45.8 percent.
All UNM full-time students, or those who take 12 credit hours or more, currently pay $6,050 in tuition and fees.
The new structure means two different increases: 13.2 percent for students who stick to less than 15 hours, and about 6.6 percent for those who already take at least 15 hours, but until now have been doing so at no extra cost. Twenty percent of the revenue generated by the tuition increase will be used for financial aid.
Regents president Jack Fortner said the board believed it was paramount to increase faculty salaries.
“The greatest asset we have is our experience, our people,” Fortner said. “So we had to do something, and that something was a 6.6 percent increase.”
Regents also approved increasing the amount in student fees for athletics, which students strongly opposed.
Student fees for athletics in the past two years have doubled, and students argued that while they supported the department, they felt it was inappropriate to fund more of its budget through students instead of other sources.
In the end, a recommendation from the Student Fee Review Board to keep fees for athletics as is, was overruled. Students next year will pay $165.20 for athletics, which is an increase of more than $33 over this year. Athletics will now get $4 million from fees. Now it gets a little over $3 million.
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal