The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has approved a budget that includes cost cutting measures, a continued hiring freeze, consolidation efforts and no tuition increase for students taking lower level classes. Students taking upper division classes will see a $18 per hour increase on those credit hours, and all students will be paying an additional $100 a semester in fees, as previously approved by students to pay for construction projects on campus.

Graduate students will pay a four percent tuition increase. Additional $18 per credit hour will be charged to students in graduate courses that do not charge a tuition differential amount (which are commonly charged in professional programs).

By limiting the increase to upper level courses, two-thirds of UNM undergraduates – about 12,000 students - will not see a rise in tuition costs. This model protects students who are most at risk for dropping out or defaulting on loans by adding no additional cost for their basic courses. Students in upper division and graduate classes will pay more per hour for the added value provided by faculty expertise, smaller content-intensive classes and lab experiences. However, undergrads who complete their education in four years can offset that cost increase through a regent incentive program.

"The tuition model aligns well with UNM’s Finish-In-Four program, under which students graduating in four years receive their last semester free,” Regent President Rob Doughty said. “In their final semester, the differential fee assessed for upper-division courses would be covered as well as the tuition, making up substantially more than this increase. This further incentivizes students to graduate on time and increases their earning potential by getting them into the work force sooner."

The blended tuition/fee cost for UNM for the upcoming school year will average just over $7000. However, Interim President Chaouki Abdallah emphasized that with financial aid, students pay on average $1425 a year.

“To really understand the value of UNM, what we should look at is how much students are paying out of pocket versus how much we are charging in tuition,” Abdallah said.

That amount could go up by another $500 dollars if the Legislative Lottery Scholarship is cut from the current 90 percent funding to an anticipated 60 percent, but that has yet to be determined by the state.

The regents also passed a differential tuition of $100 per credit hour for the graduate students in the School of Engineering - to be phased in over two years - $50 for this coming school year and another $50 beginning in Fall of 2018. However, the board split on a request from the Law School for a proposed increase to the differential tuition to expand the Juris Doctor (JD) program to the new Masters of Studies in Law (MSL) program, so it failed to pass.

The extra tuition money is expected to cover about half of the $8.9 million funding gap projected for the next fiscal year, starting July 1. A one-time use of reserves will add another $1 million, but the University must still make up another $3.7 million through cost reductions, workforce attrition and other measures to balance the budget.  

Regents will approve a full University budget at the June 13 regular Board of Regents meeting.