Wednesday, April 14, 2010
CNM A Bargain Despite Increase
By Martin Salazar
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
All good things must come to an end.
As colleges and universities across the state relented to economic pressures and raised tuition over the past few years, Central New Mexico Community College refused.
That trend ended Tuesday, when the college's governing board approved a 7.3 percent increase in tuition for in-district residents taking college credit courses. CNM's district covers Albuquerque, Corrales and Rio Rancho.
Those students will be charged $44 a credit hour beginning in the fall — a $3 increase over the current rate.
And for the first time, the college will begin charging in-district students tuition for career and technical education courses. While the classes are now free for in-district students, CNM will begin charging $5 a credit hour this fall.
Even with the increase, the cost of attending CNM is still less than a fourth of what it costs to attend the University of New Mexico.
Including mandatory fees, a full-time student taking college credit courses will pay $1,208 a year to attend CNM — an increase of $72 over the current year. That assumes the student takes 12 credit hours each semester in the fall and spring.
At UNM, most full-time undergraduates will pay $5,505 for a year.
CNM's enrollment has been booming, with a 22 percent increase during the past two years. That means it will get about $2.5 million more in state money next year, but that will not be enough to cover the cost of new teachers and other expenses.
CNM President Katharine Winograd said the increase is necessary to maintain the college's high-quality educational experience.
"After two years of being able to hold tuition steady, unfortunately we could not avoid a tuition increase this year due to the current economic conditions, combined with the surge in our enrollment," she said. "We did our best to limit the amount of the increase because we know that many of our students are also facing difficult economic circumstances."
Students outside the district taking college credit hours, meanwhile, will see their tuition bill drop by $7 a credit hour as CNM aligns their rate with what in-district students pay.
The state budget for the upcoming fiscal year contained a provision that all but required two-year colleges to raise tuition by 9 percent. By not increasing tuition that high, the college will be taking a small financial hit.
The governing board also approved a $227 million budget for the college, which enrolls more than 28,000 students. That's a 21 percent increase over this year's budget.
It contains no pay raises for employees and assumes no layoffs or furloughs.
The new budget includes $25 million in capital outlay money from state and local bonds and a $20 million increase in Pell Grants for low-income students.
While most colleges and universities across the state will see their state allocation for next fiscal year decrease because of the state's budget woes, CNM is one of four colleges that will actually get more money because of large enrollment increases.