Mountain College to raise its tuition 9 percent by summer
Colorado Mountain College is raising tuition 9 percent in response to declines in property tax revenues and state funding.
The college’s board on Monday voted unanimously in favor of the tuition hikes, which take effect this summer.
With the increases, tuition will be $53 per credit hour for students living in CMC’s district, which stretches roughly from Rifle to Dillon and Salida to Steamboat Springs. Tuition will be $89 per credit hour for students from elsewhere in Colorado, and $279 for those from out-of-state.
The new in-district tuition translates to $1,590 for a full-time student for a year, which CMC says remains the lowest tuition in Colorado.
In an interview, CMC president Stan Jensen said even the out-of-state rate remains significantly less than what many other schools charge. “Philosophically we still want to be certainly a very high-quality institution but also a very high value, so that’s where we’re still positioning ourselves,” he said.
Jensen said he realizes that every dollar counts for students, but the increase seems “reasonable in the teeth of some heavy-duty cuts from the state and lower valuations in property taxes.”
CMC has seen state funding decline for about three years in a row, and it is budgeting for another decrease based on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposal to further cut higher-education funding. State funds account for 8 percent of the college’s total budget now and that is expected to drop in the next year to 6 or 7 percent.
Meanwhile, the college has seen property tax revenue from oil and gas development drop by more than $7 million in the current year, resulting in a 12.4 percent drop in property taxes, CMC’s main source of funding. And assessors in the six counties within CMC’s district are projecting drops of 20 to 40 percent in property taxes, CMC says.
Real estate property valuations are based on values as of June 30, 2008, before the western Colorado market nosedive and foreclosure frenzy. But properties are about to be reassessed based on June 30, 2010, values.
The college’s financial challenges come even as people seeking more training due to the recession helped CMC hit a record student count last year.
Jensen said that with about $10 million less coming in this year, future building projects are being affected, but not operational funding. He said the college has kept salaries under control, has strong reserves and also is carrying very little debt.