Published: May 19, 2020

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 19, which was hosted remotely, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to approve a zero percent increase in tuition and fees for the 2020–21 academic year, a suspension of merit increases for fiscal year 2021 and more.

Tuition, fees and compensation

After a presentation from CU Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Todd Saliman on tuition and compensation resolutions, budget scenarios and campus cost saving measures, the board voted to approve a portion of the budget for the 2020–21 academic year. The resolutions that passed included the following:

  • A zero percent increase in tuition for undergraduate students including resident, nonresident and international students.
  • A zero percent increase in tuition for graduate and professional students.
  • Proposed changes to student fees
  • The suspension of merit increases for CU employees, including the Boulder campus, for the fiscal year 2021.

Students entering in the fall of 2020 will pay the same tuition as students who entered in the fall of 2018 and 2019. Total combined tuition and fees for incoming Colorado resident freshmen and transfer students in the CU Boulder College of Arts and Sciences will be $12,500 and will be locked for four years. Incoming nonresident students will see a zero percent tuition increase—with their tuition guaranteed to remain the same for four years.

“We want to ensure access for our students and their families during this time,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “Two years of no tuition increases, plus CU Boulder’s existing tuition guarantee, helps families plan for the future.”

To hold costs down for our students and families, since 2014, the Boulder campus has done the following:

  • Brought forward the tuition guarantee in 2016 for undergraduate resident students to complement the nonresident guarantee that was previously available. These guarantees ensure all undergraduate student tuition is guaranteed to remain the same for four years after students are admitted to the university. 
  • Eliminated all course and program fees, which has saved a total of more than $8.2 million per year in cost to students.
  • Established automatic, four-year Esteemed Scholarships for all resident students who have good grades and test scores. In the fall of 2019, 3,680 students received an Esteemed Scholarship, up from 794 in the fall of 2013. CU Boulder also offers automatic scholarship consideration for nonresident students through the Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship. 
  • Created support mechanisms and services for first-generation students navigating college.
  • Expanded work with several school districts to have high school students—particularly potential first-generation college students—visit the campus and spend time understanding the benefits of a higher education and how to apply—whether at CU Boulder or elsewhere.

For detailed costs including room and board and indirect costs, visit the Bursar’s Office website, which will be updated no later than May 21.

Disbursal of federal funds

Saliman reported that of the money earmarked from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support higher education, $36 million will be disbursed directly to  the University of Colorado campuses. CU Boulder's portion of these federal stimulus dollars is $18.7 million, of which half has already been added to the campus's Student Emergency Fund

In addition, Governor Polis announced yesterday another round of CARES Act funding provided directly to states, $450 million of which will be designated for institutions of higher education through the Colorado Department of Higher Education

Campus cost-saving measures

Saliman presented the board with updates about recent work on the campuses to address revenue loss. Saliman explained that each campus is considering three different scenarios for budget planning efforts: a 5%, 10% and 20% operating budget reduction (depending on when in-person instruction resumes). Cost-saving measures already implemented on the Boulder campus include the following:

  • Suspension of merit increases for fiscal year 2021.
  • Ten percent salary reductions for the chancellor, provost, chief operating officer, deans, vice chancellors and associate vice chancellors (who will take two unpaid furlough days every month during fiscal year 2021).
  • Restrictions on hiring, including a hiring freeze for all nonessential positions.

Since April, the university has indicated that furloughs were likely. So far, 447 employees have been notified about being continuously furloughed on or before June 1. These employees will retain their university benefits and be able to apply for unemployment benefits. The intention with these measures is to position the university to be able to bring furloughed employees back as soon as possible.

Budget process

While the board normally approves tuition, fees and compensation in April and then the full budget in June after the state budget is approved, the board chose to delay the process this year. As Saliman reported at an April 29 special board meeting about the state budget and campus budget scenarios, delaying the process allows university and campus officials to propose this significant portion of the budget with a clearer understanding of the state budget, how federal assistance will be dispersed and enrollment projections. Delaying the process will  also allow the campuses to consider measures to balance the campus budgets. The board is expected to vote on the final budget after the state budget has been signed by the governor in June.

In other board news

  • The CU Board of Regents approved a policy change that grants the campus administrative discretion over the extension of leave for those university staff members who exceed their allowed vacation accrual on July 1, 2020. Administrative approval and communication for the Boulder campus is forthcoming.
  • The board approved by consent agenda an updated prioritized state-funded capital construction budget request for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The CU system’s list includes renovations of the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building and Guggenheim Geography Building as the No. 1 and No. 4 priorities. The CU system’s state-funded capital construction requests will go before legislators over the coming year for consideration to receive legislative appropriations when the 2021-22 budget bill comes out next spring.

Full details on all presentations are available on BoardDocs, and a livestream of the proceedings will be available.