Following a nearly four hour budget meeting on Tuesday, the UNM Board of Regents voted to table any decision on tuition and compensation increases for Fiscal Year 2015, but agreed to meet in open session again on Friday, March 28 at noon. In the meantime, regents plan to work with administration, faculty, staff, students and retiree representatives to get their questions answered on a number of issues that could affect their decision.
After considering recommendations from the Strategic Budget Leadership (SBRT) and the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB), President Robert G. Frank proposed a 1.5 percent tuition increase with a three percent raise in compensation for faculty and a two percent increase for staff. “UNM’s Human Capital is our most valuable asset and our highest priority. And it must be preserved to maintain our faculty and staff in a competitive global market,” Frank said. “The only program investments we are recommending are to drive student success. We have stripped out everything possible and still be able to honor the commitment made to the Provost for his five-year academic plan.”
A 1.5 percent increase in tuition would cost about $48 more per semester for an in-state undergraduate student taking 15 hours a semester. Currently tuition and fees for that student run $3,200 per semester.
At the branch campuses, tuition would stay the same at Gallup, Taos and Valencia County, but Los Alamos is seeking a 4.6 percent increase because of the expiration of several contracting grants.
Provost Chaouki Abdallah told the regents it is important to balance the benefit versus the cost. “Cost of tuition at UNM remains a bargain compared to the value of our degree,” Abdallah said. “Students aren’t just our customers; they are our partners. We can’t teach them, if they don’t learn. So therefore part of this academic plan is for us to be able to help them by providing them with the support they need to succeed so we can graduate more students who are better prepared.”
Regent Gene Gallegos moved to table a vote on the tuition and compensation saying the regents needed an opportunity to thoroughly review the alternatives. Regent Suzanne Quillen echoed his concern. “We support compensation increases, but have questions about salary inequities,” she said. “It is not sustainable or wise to continue to increase student tuition to solve our huge and important problems. It is our job to think outside the box and come up with other solutions.”
The regents were also asked to consider differential tuition increases for some graduate programs and one undergraduate school.
Anderson School of Management is requesting a new $10 per credit hour fee for undergraduate students as well as an additional $10 per credit hour fee for graduate students for a total of nearly $184. The School of Architecture and Planning is asking for an almost $25 increase to $75 per credit hour. Speech and Hearing Sciences is requesting a new $150 per credit hour fee for graduate courses.
The justification for the differential tuition includes the higher cost of the program, lab equipment and faculty who require clinical expertise.
Regent President Jack Fortner called a special meeting of the Board to be held on Friday, from noon to 2 p.m. in Ballroom C of the Student Union Building. The meeting will be held in Open Session for the purposes of further discussion and consideration of the FY15 Budget.