After weighing the pros and cons of a tuition increase, the Advisory Board for the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus unanimously voted to leave the cost of classes as is.
“We’ve avoided tuition increases when we can,” said board president Paul Luna. “With the revenue projected though, I’m thinking maybe we don’t need an increase right now.”
This will mark the third year in a row the campus has left tuition rates the same.
Resident tuition for the 2020-21 school year will remain at $78.25 per credit hour, including fees. Non-resident tuition will remain at $213.75 per credit hour, including fees.
During a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 26, Rick Goshorn, director of business operations, laid out several possible percentage increases and their accompanying new revenues for the campus.
A 1 percent increase would bring in an additional $14,500, while a 10 percent jump would see an increase in revenues for the campus’ instructional and general budget of $145,000.
Most of the board’s discussion centered around the possibility of a 3 percent increase, which would result in $43,500 in new revenue. Members ultimately decided the amount wasn’t significant enough to justify an increase.
“Thinking about students, staying the course may be best for them,” said board member Roberta Scott.
Goshorn said he could easily develop a budget for the upcoming fiscal year without the new revenue.
“The $43,500 is not much in a $10 million I&G budget,” Goshorn said.
The campus’ instructional and general budget would be receiving an additional $400,000 in the upcoming school year, he said, excluding funding for the nursing program. However, that would be balanced against several increases in expenditures.
An across-the-board compensation increase of an average 4 percent is estimated to cost $256,500, 70 percent of which is funded by the state, leaving the difference of $102,508 to be picked up by the campus.
There is also an anticipated 5 percent increase in health insurance as well, Goshorn said, an additional cost of about $25,000.
The minimum wage is increasing from $9 to $10.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021, midway through the fiscal year. Between student staff and some members of the custodial staff, the increased cost could reach $25,468, he told the board.
In addition, about $85,000 in salaries previously paid by grants would need to be picked up by the university this coming fiscal year.
Goshorn said the campus has also seen a shift from traditional, on-campus students to dual enrollment students in terms of a revenue source.
Enrollment has declined through 2019, he said, so revenue from tuition and fees has been reduced to a about $1.4 million, down from more than $1.7 million, for the upcoming budget year to reflect the change in numbers.
To balance the current fiscal year budget, which will end in June, the university used $131,740 from its reserves, Goshorn said, and next year will need to pull $354,434.
Chancellor Alice Letteney went over information from the 2020 Legislative session, including that there would hopefully be money available to students in the fall from the newly created Opportunity Scholarship program.
The program is a “last-dollar” program that would cover the cost of tuition and fees for New Mexico college students not paid for by federal grants or the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship.
While Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had hoped the Legislature would approve $35 million for the new program, it ultimately allocated $12 million.
“It’s unclear how it will be distributed and to whom,” Letteney said. “The department of higher education will have hearings and establish rules. They said funds should be available for the fall semester.”
The $1.8 million the campus needs to upgrade its fire suppression system will be included in the November general obligation bond, Letteney told the board.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.