College leader unhappy with possible funding loss of $10 million
A provision tucked into one paragraph of a 52-page higher-education-flexibility bill on its way to the governor’s desk could cost Mesa State College $10 million, according to Mesa State President Tim Foster.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 3 would require the board of trustees at each public college or university in Colorado to submit a plan by Nov. 10 to the Legislature for funding the school if the state cut its share of the institution’s funding by 50 percent. Foster said he heard a 50 percent cut could be discussed as soon as the 2011 legislative session.
The school will receive about $5 million less from the state in the 2010-11 school year than it received in the 2009-10 school year, he said. Having state funding cut in half could amount to about $300 million in cuts to higher education statewide, Foster said, with Mesa State taking an estimated hit of $10 million.
“I think it’s time to put our foot down and say that’s not acceptable,” Foster told Mesa State Board of Trustees members at a board meeting Friday.
Instead of submitting a list of cuts, Foster said he is tempted to suggest ways the state could cut elsewhere, such as slimming down tuition help for graduate students or rolling back an increase in funding designed to help inmates access education.
Foster said he likes Senate Bill 3’s provision allowing each school to report one set of financial reports instead of submitting three to the state. Foster said other parts of the bill, including a section that allows for tuition flexibility, don’t concern him much, because tuition increases always are discussed with students.
Senate Bill 3 would allow colleges and universities to make their own fiscal and information-technology rules, let schools show rather than seek approval from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for capital projects, and change in-state to out-of-state ratio requirements. It would allow schools to avoid giving a certain portion of revenue to need-based financial aid if tuition increases, and it would allow schools to set financial-aid-eligibility requirements, a job currently done by the state department of higher education.