The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has unanimously approved a nearly $3 billion FY 2017-18 consolidated budget for main campus, the health science center and the branch campuses.
The total $834 million operating and capital budget plan for main campus is a nearly two percent decrease in revenue from the previous fiscal year, and reflects an $11.5 million cut in state appropriations and a reduction in state Legislative Lottery Scholarship (LLS) support.
The vote to approve the consolidated budget follows a regent budget summit in May that included cost cutting measures, a continued hiring freeze, consolidation efforts and a tuition increase for some students. There will be no tuition hike for undergraduates taking lower level classes next school year. Students taking upper division courses will see an $18 per credit hour increase. All students will pay 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).
To address a funding gap of $3 million dollars that remained after the state appropriations, cost cutting measures and the increase in tuition revenue, the approved budget calls for a cut in upper administration salary and workforce of $200,000, reorganization and attrition savings of nearly $1.87 million and a one-time use of $1 million in reserves.
“These reductions should result in a balanced budget assuming there is no significant change in enrollment,” Interim President Chaouki Abdallah said.
There is some concern that the state’s move to reduce funding for lottery scholarships to 60 percent of tuition from the current 90 percent could affect fall enrollment numbers. Administrators believe limiting the tuition increase to only upper level courses, and targeted need-based financial aid will help minimize the impact.
About two-thirds of UNM undergraduates – about 12,000 students – are taking lower division courses only or will receive the financial assistance and 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. The blended tuition/fee cost for UNM for the upcoming school year will average just over $7,000.
President Abdallah pointed out that even with the fiscal challenges, UNM remains a good value for New Mexicans, providing quality and affordability for middle class families, a great Liberal Arts education for the Honors College students, and institutional support for the neediest students.
“That’s what being a great flagship institution is all about, spanning the whole range of students from the most at need to the most prepared, and meeting the needs of both,” he said.