Facing a shortfall of more than $7.5 million, The University of New Mexico Board of Regents passed a budget that includes a modest tuition increase and significant cuts across all areas of campus.
With state budget cuts of $4.5 million and a projected enrollment-driven tuition decline of $1.1 million, university leaders grappled with building a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.
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“We are out of easy solutions,” President Robert Frank told the board. “No single approach will work by itself, so what we are bringing to you today is a blended solution.”
After a full morning of reports and discussion, the regents passed a 2.5 percent increase in tuition. Adding in the student fee hike to fund the previously approved facility bond for campus improvements, students taking 15 credit hours per semester will see their cost go up by $286 a year, a 4.29 percent overall increase.
The remaining deficit will be addressed through main campus spending cuts of about $3 million and a transfer of $1.8 million from the Health Sciences Center.
The administration had requested a three percent tuition increase, but Regent President Rob Doughty and Regent Marron Lee opposed that amount.
“I am not comfortable with three percent,” Lee said. “However, we are in some very difficult times as an institution.”
“I do believe that UNM has pulled the belt as tight as it can go and I can agree to go to 2.5 percent,” Doughty said. “This is a one time deal and not a systemic budget crisis.”
Student Regent Ryan Berryman said, “I believe this is fair and shows that the university is working together to do what is best for the students.”
Lee, Doughty and Berryman along with Regent Bradley Hosmer voted for the 2.5 percent increase. Regents Suzanne Quillen and Jack Fortner were not present for the vote.
Student government representatives also voiced support for the increase saying they understand that times are tough. In a joint statement to the regents, ASUNM President Jenna Hagengruber and GPSA President Texanna Martin stated, “We will stand in support of a tuition increase of no more than 3 percent if it is truly in the best interest of the student body, student employment, assistantships, and the services offered to the students during their time at the University of New Mexico.”
The Regents also unanimously passed a one percent decrease in tuition for the UNM School of Medicine. With the reduction, med school students will pay about $162 less a year.
Tuition will increase for three UNM branch campuses with Regents voting 4-2 to approve increases of 8 percent for Gallup, 8.7 percent for Valencia County and 6.8 percent for Los Alamos. Doughty and Lee voted against the branch increases.