Tuition bump? UNM administration seeks 3% tuition hike, 6% salary raise; regents question the process - Albuquerque Journal

Tuition bump? UNM administration seeks 3% tuition hike, 6% salary raise; regents question the process

Edie Bickel, a junior at the University of New Mexico who is studying liberal arts, works on her laptop while outside on the Albuquerque campus Friday. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

In-state students at the University of New Mexico would pay about $500 more in tuition and fees next school year under a budget proposal from the university’s administration.

A UNM committee made up of three regents sent the proposal to the full board to be considered at its April 10 meeting, but pointedly did so without making a recommendation on whether or not to pass it. Some regents on Friday raised concerns at how quickly the board has to approve the budget to meet state deadlines.

The budget proposal also would give university employees an average 6% raise, but the UNM administration’s plan gives managers leeway in how to spread out the money.

Employees making under $60,000 would get 6% to 9% raises. Those making between $60,000 and $100,000 would get 4% to 8% raises and employees making more than $100,000 would get 3% to 7% raises, according to budget documents. Unions will negotiate how the money is distributed among employees who are part of unions.

During a presentation of the proposed budget, Regent Rob Schwartz questioned why about $500,000 was being set aside for “athletic parity,” which university officials said was an effort to make Lobo sports competitive in terms of institutional support with other teams in the Mountain West.

“It seems really rushed and unconsidered,” he said.

Regent President Kim Sanchez Rael said the decision to send the budget proposal along without a recommendation was significant.

“The board and the committee … really want to take this decision very, very seriously and have appropriate reflection and discernment and make sure we’re making the right decision for the university,” she said.

In the budget proposal, tuition and fees for one year for in-state students would be $11,380, which is $500 more than the current year. The hike includes a 3% tuition bump as well as increases in fees.

A student walks up a stairway on the campus of the University of New Mexico on Friday. In-state students would pay about $500 more next year under a budget proposal. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Out-of-state students will also see their tuition rise 3%.

“Not every student actually sees this increase,” said Provost James Holloway.

After taking into consideration the various scholarships — including the lottery and opportunity scholarships — and grants that are available to students, only about 41% of UNM students pay the full cost of tuition. About 48% of UNM students have their tuition and fees fully covered, according to budget documents.

Branch campuses don’t plan to raise tuition and fees at all next year, Holloway said.

State appropriations to UNM’s main campus are slated to increase 9.6%, going from about $222 million in the 2023 fiscal year to about $244 million in the next fiscal year.

Holloway said UNM is predicting enrollment will stay flat this year after seeing the size of the freshman class increase in recent years amid the rollout of an Opportunity Scholarship in the state.

Last year, tuition revenue was $130 million and UNM is predicting that to grow to $134 million next year.

The proposal includes $9 million in new recurring funding requests.

After the full board heard a presentation on the administration’s budget plans, the Finance and Facilities Committee voted to send the proposal to the full board, but the committee didn’t make a recommendation on whether to pass it.

Several regents suggested perhaps having another meeting next week on the budget before the April 10 meeting.

“Is there a way the regents could be involved earlier in the process?” Regent Paula Tackett asked during the budget presentation.

Regent Bill Payne said regents have to delegate the intricacies of putting together a budget to administrators.

“We shouldn’t get into any of that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s our role to get into the line items.”

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