Foster: Tuition plans could scare away some students

Mesa State College President Tim Foster said Thursday he stands by a tuition plan the college submitted to the Colorado Department of Higher Education one week ago, despite the department’s initial rejection of the plan because it didn’t include a specific rate for a tuition increase.

All public colleges and universities in Colorado that may increase tuition next year were asked to submit financial accountability plans that outlined how much the college may increase tuition in fall 2011 and how the school would keep college accessible to lower-income students if tuition went up.

Department of Higher Education spokeswoman Dawn Taylor Owens said the department has not accepted Mesa State College’s plan, submitted Oct. 1, because it “didn’t meet CCHE (Colorado Commission on Higher Education) guidelines or the statutes outlined by Senate Bill 3,” which asks colleges to include a specific rate by which tuition may increase.

Foster said he did meet the needs of Senate Bill 3, which created the financial accountability plan system, he just didn’t list a rate increase above 9 percent, which is the cap for tuition increases if a plan is rejected or not submitted. Foster said he believes the school can keep tuition increases below 9 percent if state funding rolls in as expected next year.

He simply submitted the plan just in case the college decided later this school year to amend the plan due to bad news about funding.

When asked how Mesa State could get its plan passed as is or in another form by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Owens said the college may have “ongoing conversations with the department.” Foster isn’t sure how a change would help, and he’s worried throwing out large tuition increase rate speculations could hurt enrollment.

“I could say 9.1 percent. It would be bogus, but I could say it,” Foster said. “The danger of throwing around speculative numbers is it scares kids away.”

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has until the end of the calendar year to adopt schools’ financial plans. Every institution in Colorado but Colorado School of Mines submitted plans.

All of those have been given the go-ahead to face the commission except for Mesa State’s plan.


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