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3% tuition increase proposed for University of Northern Colorado students in 2024-2025

GREELEY, CO – FEBRUARY 18: The North Hall residence hall, part of the west campus residential complex, is located at 2253 11th Avenue on the University of Northern Colorado campus in Greeley, February 18, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

The University of Northern Colorado on Friday unveiled a look at its fiscal year 2025 operating budget, and the preliminary draft called for tuition and residency increases, higher enrollment projections and more funding from the state.

The budget also takes into account increases in personnel costs beginning in 2024 for items such as pay increases for faculty and staff, and non-personnel items, including increased operations associated with the recently approved University of Osteopathic Medicine.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine, which received funding from a bill signed by Gov. Jared Polis last week, is expected to see $4.9 million in donor funds that will cover the same amount of operating costs.

The preliminary version was presented to the UNC Board of Governors during the Finance and Audit Committee meeting in the Campus Commons.

The board committee did not vote on or approve the budget proposal presented by Vice President of Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Dale Pratt.

The board is expected to vote on the 2024-25 budget at its next meeting on June 14. The fiscal year starts on July 1.

An architect's drawing of a building that could serve as home to the University of Northern Colorado's college of osteopathic medicine in Greeley.  The state of Colorado on Friday, April 26, 2024, approved $127.5 million in funding for the Denver building as part of a $246.9 million package for health care-related education at three other schools of higher learning.  (Courtesy/University of Northern Colorado).
An architect’s drawing of a building that could serve as home to the University of Northern Colorado’s college of osteopathic medicine in Greeley. The state of Colorado on Friday, April 26, 2024, approved $127.5 million in funding for the Denver building as part of a $246.9 million package for health care-related education at three other schools of higher learning. (Courtesy/University of Northern Colorado).

“It’s an evaluation and initial thoughts and suggestions,” said Greg Anton, member of the board of trustees and chairman of the finance and audit committee. “We are looking for your input.”

Among Pratt’s revisions to the preliminary budget was a 3% increase in undergraduate tuition to $9,047, which would be $263 over the current academic year ($8,784) and in line with Polis’ proposed tuition cap for those students statewide.

The preliminary budget also proposes a 4% increase in tuition, bringing the total cost of tuition and fees to $11,900, which would be $372 between 2023 and 2024. Mandatory study costs include services, capital and technology.

Student tuition and fees are expected to generate $80 million in the preliminary budget, representing approximately 38% of the university’s total operating revenue of $210.2 million. Total student revenue in the budget is $113 million.

This increase to $11,900 would rank seventh among Colorado’s 12 state colleges and universities, according to UNC. Colorado School of Mines is the highest at $21,850, and Fort Lewis College is the lowest at $9,980. University of Colorado Boulder ($14,047) and Colorado State ($13,247) rank second and third, respectively.

Room and board costs would also increase within the preliminary budget – with a 5% increase for residence halls and rates from 6% to 14% for Arlington Park Apartments, depending on the type of apartment.

Meal plan rates will increase 7% to 8% under the preliminary budget, and Sodexo, the university’s food vendor, will get a 6% increase.

The budget also proposes a 4% increase in both graduate and extended campus tuition and fees. This amounts to $539 more than last year, or $29.94 per credit hour.

For graduate students next year, that would mean the following for a lower-level resident with 18 credit hours per academic year: $11,569 for tuition and $2,443 for tuition, for a total of $14,012.

This would place UNC fifth among the eleven state universities. Colorado School of Mines again ranks highest at $22,208, and Colorado State-Pueblo is lowest at $7,901, according to UNC.

The preliminary budget also projects a 9.3% increase in state funding from $63.1 million to $69 million.

Net operating income is also expected to increase for fiscal year 2025. UNC expects an increase of 8.1% to $210.2 million.

Pratt said the increase comes from multiple sources, including increased student revenue and higher occupancy rates in residence halls. This occupancy rate should be around 62% this year, which remains lower than average for UNC.

Pratt said the university has “successfully” achieved a balanced budget. The preliminary version expects $208.5 million in net operating expenses, which is an increase of 7.7% from $193.6 million.

Pratt said the balance comes from “better enrollment prospects, room and board rate increases and careful cost management.”

Enrollment has been an issue or concern at UNC in recent years.

Cedric Howard, vice president for student affairs and enrollment services, reported some good and some not-so-good numbers on enrollment. Enrollment projections call for 1,300 new freshmen, 550 new transfers and a 74% retention rate of new, first-year students from fall 2023 to fall 2024.

As of Friday, UNC has admitted 9,552 new incoming students, which is the most in school history and exceeds the goal of 9,398, Howard said.

UNC has received approximately 1,100 deposit confirmations from new, incoming students. The university’s goal for this year is 1,327 confirmations.

Of the 9,552 admitted students, approximately 28.5%, or 2,725, identify as Hispanic or Latino. This is important to UNC because the university recently achieved status as a Hispanic institution, which staff and students hope will lead to a campus-wide shift toward equity for all students.

The university has work to do when it comes to transfer students, Howard said. At the end of April, only 625 transfer students had been admitted, which is 57.8% of the target of 1,086. Of those 625, 346 are confirmed deposits, which is 46.6% of the university’s goal of 743. Howard said transfer students are traditionally “cost-conscious” and transfers are declining nationally.

The graduate programs have admitted 1,139 students, which represents approximately 76% of the fall goal. The university wants to register 720 students this year. About 290 graduate students have committed.

Other components of the operating costs of $208.5 million are personnel costs:

  • $41.6 million for faculty salaries – up 5.1% from $39.6 million in FY24;
  • $42.2 million for professional administration salaries – up 3.8% from $40.7 million;
  • $14.8 million for undisclosed employee salaries – up 4.7% from $14.1 million;
  • $5 million for graduate scholarships – up 1.2% from $4.9 million;
  • $3.7 million for student and other wages – an increase of 13.7% from $3.2 million; And
  • $29.7 million for benefits, such as health benefits – an increase of 8.9% from $27.3 million.