Published: April 28, 2023

The University of Colorado Board of Regents on April 28 approved a 4% increase in tuition for graduate students and new undergraduate students at CU Boulder as part of the 2023–24 budget, which will be finalized in June. 

The board also heard public comments on concealed carry policies, divestment and sexual assault prevention. It also handled other business during its two-day meeting at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Tuition, fees, compensation approved for 2023–24

The board voted to approve tuition, fee and compensation portions of the fiscal year 2023–24 budget, with Regent Mark VanDriel voting against the resolutions on tuition and compensation. The spending plan is mindful of affordability while supporting strategic investments in compensation, financial aid, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Key aspects of CU Boulder’s budget proposal include:

  • 4% increase in tuition for incoming undergraduate resident and non-resident students (because of CU Boulder’s tuition guarantee, only new students, not continuing undergraduates who will complete their degrees in four years, will see an increase in their tuition)
  • 4% tuition increase for graduate students
  • $10 increase in the CUSG student activity fee (to $409.76 per semester) and $20 increase in the mental health resource fee (to $97.40 per semester)
  • 4% merit compensation pool for university staff, faculty and graduate students on appointment. The campus plans to propose an additional 4% merit pool for the 2024–25 fiscal year, if funds are available, to allow a total 8% merit pool over the next two years
  • 5% across-the-board pay increase for classified staff as determined by the state of Colorado
  • Minimum wage increases for staff (to $18/hour) and student workers (to $16/hour)

CU system Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano is expecting an 11.5% increase, or about $118.6 million, in state funding for higher education next year, along with a $27.3 million increase in student financial aid across the state. State funding also will support capital construction and controlled maintenance projects across the CU system, including the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building renovation.

CU Boulder is projecting fall 2023 undergraduate enrollment to be very close to fall 2022 and is anticipating a slight decrease of 0.7% in the overall student population.

Later this year, CU Boulder will launch a project to develop a comprehensive compensation strategy for campus employees.

The full budget will be voted upon at the June Board of Regents meeting.

Comments on concealed carry, sexual assault prevention, divestment, more

Regents also heard public comments on several topics, including a plea to ban concealed carry of handguns on campuses from CUSG Tri-Executive Rachel Hill. The topic has been discussed repeatedly throughout the academic year, including at the regents’ University Affairs Committee on April 18.

“The students, the faculty, the staff are not letting up on this,” Hill said.

Regents heard an update on resident advisor (RA) compensation from University of Colorado Colorado Springs student Isabella Palombo, who raised concerns about salaries and working conditions at UCCS as well at CU Boulder and urged the CU system to address unmet financial needs among RAs. CU Boulder has proposed a plan to increase compensation starting next academic year to address RA concerns as part of the fiscal year 2024 budget. 

Link O’Brennan, a student in Women & Gender Studies, urged CU Boulder and the system to undertake a variety of steps to more adequately prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus. Board of Regents Chair Lesley Smith urged the students to take the recommendations to the campus Sexual Misconduct Task Force to review.

The majority of speakers April 27 attended on behalf of Fossil Free CU, urging regents to remove all university investments from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy. About 40 people, many wearing orange and carrying posters, gathered to show support for divestment. CU Boulder theater professor Beth Osnes, who focuses on creative climate communication, dressed as a wind turbine and sang a song about clean energy.

Regent Ken Montera said board members are now educating themselves on CU’s investment processes and practices and also hiring a new treasurer. He said the regents would continue to study the issue and keep their focus on “revenue streams that keep CU accessible and affordable to all.”

Strategic plan update: Research funding goals

Regents also received updates on the second pillar of the CU system strategic plan, which is focused on discovery and impact. Marturano presented data on current research, scholarship and creative work and campus progress toward 2026 goals.

CU Boulder received a record $658 million in research awards and gifts during the 2021–22 fiscal year and has received $551.5 million in awards and grants so far this fiscal year (as of March 31). The goal for fiscal year 2026 is $800 million.

The campus plans to focus its efforts on boosting national security research, as well as deepening collaboration with the Anschutz Medical Campus to increase funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The regents, chancellors and other campus leaders met in breakout groups to discuss the data and goals.

East Campus athletics upgrades

The board also approved a plan to renovate and construct athletic facilities on CU Boulder’s East Campus as part of the consent agenda. The improvements are designed to address recommendations identified in the CU Athletics 2022–26 Gender Equity Plan related to Title IX compliance.

The project includes a new 4,000-square-foot building to include ADA-accessible restrooms, drinking fountains and concessions for spectators in anticipation of CU Boulder hosting the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in May 2024. It also includes renovations to the Bryan Benjamin Sax Ski Team Building to upgrade and expand non-code-compliant restrooms.

The project will serve student-athletes on the ski, track and field, and women’s soccer teams as well as spectators at Potts Field and Prentup Field. Funding for the $4.4 million project will come from a CU Foundation gift.

The new building is expected to be ready for occupancy by August 2023.

Other business

The board received an update from Chancellor Phil DiStefano about highlights from the academic year, which will culminate May 11 when more than 6,000 graduates celebrate commencement at Folsom Field.

The year’s highlights included the grand opening of the Renée Crown Wellness Institute; an election that upheld the annexation of CU Boulder South; the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit; academic successes including progress toward a common curriculum and improvements to the undergraduate experience; advancement on diversity, equity and inclusion goals; new state legislation that aids CU Boulder; and the rise of the CU football team under coach Deion Sanders.

The regents also:

  • Voted to grant tenure to CU Boulder professors Torin Clark, Adam Holewinski, Daniel Larremore and Natasha Shrikant and approved sabbaticals for 66 CU Boulder faculty members
  • Approved a new doctoral program in engineering education
  • Honored new distinguished professors Kira Hall, Karolin Luger and Leysia Palen (the title of distinguished professor is the highest honor bestowed upon faculty across the system’s four campuses and recognizes excellence in research, teaching and service)

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 22–23 at CU Boulder.

Fall 2023 tuition changes

CU Boulder is committed to providing a financially attainable higher education experience. To meet rising costs of instruction, the 2023–24 proposed CU Boulder budget includes tuition increases for some students.

About the proposed changes:

  • 4% tuition increase for incoming new undergraduate resident and non-resident students.
  • Because of CU Boulder’s tuition guarantee, continuing undergraduates who will complete their degrees in four years will not see an increase.
  • 4% tuition increase for graduate students.
  • The budget also increases institutional financial aid and increased support for the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative.

By the numbers:

  • More than 15,000 CU Boulder students supported via need-based and merit-based awards annually.
  • $134 million of CU Boulder financial aid disbursed annually.
  • $57,800 median starting salary for students with a CU Boulder bachelor's degree (Payscale, 2020)

Recent steps taken to make higher education more financially attainable:

  • The 2023–24 budget proposal includes increased funding for institutional financial aid.
  • Four-year lock on tuition for incoming undergraduates.
  • Elimination of course and program fees and the student information systems fee.
  • Reduced Residential Academic Program fee by 50%.
  • No tuition increases for fall 2020 and a one-time tuition increase buydown in fall 2021.
  • Automatic scholarships for qualified Colorado resident students.
  • A $200-per-year reduction to mandatory fees from the elimination of a capital construction fee.
  • Scholarships for academically qualified transfer students.
  • CU Boulder is expanding the CU Promise program in 2023–24, doubling the number of Colorado resident students with significant financial need who are eligible for free tuition and fees for the 2023–24 academic year.
  • Many graduate students receive a high level of financial support as they pursue their degree.
  • In 2021, CU Boulder began covering mandatory fees for graduate students on assistantship appointments.
  • Eligible graduate students on appointment received a base-building 3% across-the-board pay increase, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

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