Published: March 1, 2009

With severe state budget cuts looming, CU President Bruce Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci’04) and other frustrated higher education leaders are asking lawmakers for the flexibility to raise tuition as they feel necessary.

“Give us the opportunity to control our destiny, especially if you’re not going to give us the money to run the place,” President Benson told the Denver Post.

Colorado consistently ranks 48th in the country for state support for higher education. As it stands, tuition increases must be approved by lawmakers, which Benson and others feel limits their ability to manage their institutions — especially this year when the state may slash higher education funding to cover the projected $600 million budget shortfall.

If CU and other state institutions became privatized, however, some critics worry low-income families would suffer, since the governor and lawmakers wouldn’t weigh in on tuition increases. Yet, others feel it’s not fair to simultaneously underfund higher education institutions while overburdening them with rules and regulations.

“We have three research institutions — Colorado, Colorado State and Mines — and frankly, every year we erode the quality of those institutions,” Rep. Jack Pommer (Phil’86), a Boulder Democrat, told the Rocky Mountain News. “If you have a house and can’t maintain it, why not just move instead of letting it deteriorate?”