The University of Colorado Board of Regents held its regular meeting on Thursday, April 8, voting to approve CU tuition and fee changes for the 2021-22 academic year.
The board also approved a 3% salary increase for classified staff and a 2% post-pandemic payment for faculty and university staff. The timing and details of the payment will be determined between now and July 1, 2021.
The CU campuses plan to use federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Act (HEERF) funds to buy down the tuition increase for the 2021-22 academic year.
“The last year has been financially difficult for many students and their families,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “We are grateful federal funds can help relieve some of the burden in the upcoming fiscal year.”
Tuition, fees, enrollment and compensation
The board voted 6-2 to approve tuition increases being implemented on CU campuses for the 2021-22 academic year. The campuses will use a portion of their federal HEERF funds as a one-time buy down of these increases in 2021-22, effectively keeping tuition at the same rate for the fourth year in a row.
Continuing undergraduate students at CU Boulder will see no change in tuition, thanks to the university’s four-year tuition guarantee, which has been extended by one year for all cohorts due to the effects of the pandemic.
For graduate students and incoming undergraduates (first-year and transfer), the regents approved a 3% tuition increase. Tuition for incoming undergraduate students will be locked in at the new increased rate thanks to Boulder’s four-year tuition guarantee. However, both incoming undergraduates and graduate students will see a credit on their bills for the 2021-22 academic year that negates the increase, thanks to the one-time use of the federal funds.
Todd Saliman, senior vice president for strategy, government relations and chief financial officer for the CU system, said even with the 3% tuition increase approved Thursday that CU Boulder tuition changes have still trailed inflation by 3.9 percentage points since the 2018-19 academic year.
The regents approved a 50% decrease of the Residential Academic Program fees, from $850 per year to $425, increasing the opportunity for incoming students to access these programs in which students who share common academic interests live and study together in a residence hall.
The board also approved increases to four separate fees:
- Room and board rates will increase by 3%, including for residence halls, Bear Creek and graduate and family housing.
- The student Transit Pass fee will increase by $7.76 to $86.18 per semester.
- The CU Student Government student activity fee will increase by $6.49 to $389.76 per semester.
- The Graduate and Professional Student Government fee will increase by $4.12 to $11.62 per semester.
The regents approved several changes related to compensation as the university continues to adjust to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The regents approved a 3% across-the-board salary increase for classified staff on all CU campuses for the 2021-22 fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021.
- For CU Boulder, UCCS, CU Denver and the CU system offices, the regents shifted the merit salary pool cycle for faculty and university staff to a calendar year cycle instead of fiscal year cycle. This change will allow decisions on merit pool increases to be made once fall census has occurred and campuses have a better picture of their revenue outlooks for the year.
- In recognition of the compensation cycle shift for faculty and university staff and the challenges they have met during the pandemic, the regents approved a non-base-building 2% across-the-board post-pandemic payment. The amount of those payments will be based on restored salary levels as of July 1, and campuses will provide further details about the 2% payment later this spring.
- Individual campus revenue thresholds will determine whether an ongoing calendar year merit salary pool is implemented effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Updated enrollment projections for fall 2021 anticipate a 3.3% increase for the CU Boulder campus to 36,119 students, up from 34,975 in fall 2020. Fall 2020 enrollment was down 1.9% from the fall 2019 level of 35,528 students. The projected increase for fall 2021 includes a restoration of enrollment that declined this past year, plus additional enrollment driven primarily from expected growth in graduate enrollments.
The board honored seven members of the 2020 class of distinguished professors. The 2020 class included 12 honorees in all, including eight from CU Boulder.
The seven distinguished professors honored Thursday included five from the Boulder campus: Penina Axelrad, Mitchell Begelman, Jeffrey Cox, Cora Randall and Katharine Suding. The other five honorees from the 2020 class were honored at the board’s February meeting.
Real estate transaction
As part of the consent agenda, the board approved a real estate transaction in which CU Boulder intends to exchange the Academy property at 970 Aurora Ave. for the properties located at 1506 Broadway, 1522 Broadway, 2705 Colorado Ave. and 1221 26th St. The transaction also includes the university receiving $385,000 in cash to offset the difference in appraised value of the properties being exchanged.
CU Boulder currently leases the Academy property to the Academy Development Group through a long-term ground lease. The two properties the university is receiving on Broadway are currently owned by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and are strategic acquisitions that would complete the university’s assemblage of real estate on the Broadway frontage between the City of Boulder’s Andrews Arboretum to the north and Baseline Road to the south. While the acquisitions enhance the university’s long-term redevelopment potential of the Grandview area, short-term plans for the Broadway properties are to lease the buildings back to NARF through at least March 2022. They could also provide additional office space for university departments in the future.
The properties the university is acquiring on Colorado Avenue and 26th Street are single-family homes owned by affiliates of the Academy Development Group that currently serve as student rentals. The acquisitions help secure the eastern gateway to Main Campus and also enhance long-term redevelopment potential. However, short-term plans are to continue the properties’ current use as residential rental units.
Pending final approval by the state legislature’s Capital Development Committee, the property exchanges could be completed later this month.
In other board news
- The CU Board of Regents expressed its appreciation to CUSG Tri-Executive and ICSF Chair Isaiah Chavous for his representation of the student body before the board in the current academic year.
- Sabbaticals for 48 CU Boulder professors were approved as part of the consent agenda.
- The regents voted on and approved a new three-year contract for assistant football coach Chris Wilson, who was promoted in January from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator.
- The board approved, as part of the consent agenda, revisions to Regent Policy 11E to bring it into alignment with the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. The HFWA requires employers to provide paid sick leave to all employees, which made multiple employee groups at CU Boulder newly eligible for sick leave beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
- On consent, the regents approved preliminary program plans for a pair of new residence halls in the area of Main Campus north of Boulder Creek. The projects have been identified as needs the campus intends to pursue sometime in the next five years. The projects do not require significant immediate funding, and the timeline will be determined based on final approval of full program plans by the regents.
- Also as part of the consent agenda, the board approved an updated prioritized state-funded capital construction budget request for the 2022-23 fiscal year, an annually submitted list of projects proposed to be funded jointly with state and campus cash funds. The CU system’s list includes major renovations of the Hellems Arts and Sciences, Guggenheim Geography and Macky Auditorium buildings among the priorities to receive state legislative appropriations for the 2022-23 cycle. 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 2022-23 budget bill comes out next spring. The Hellems Arts and Sciences renovation project remains under consideration for appropriations as part of the proposed 2021-22 state budget, which was introduced in the Colorado General Assembly on Monday.
- The board provided notice of motion of potential changes in the regent policies governing the timing of the election of the board chair and vice chair and potentially increasing their terms from one to two years.