Colorado Higher Ed Slated For Funding Bump Next Year

A new budget proposal released last week by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper contains a nice surprise for the state’s higher education system. Chad Marturano, director of the legislative affairs at the Colorado Department of higher education, explains that the state’s public colleges and universities are set to receive as much as $37 million in additional funding if the budget proposal passes as written.

Marturano also explained the breakdown for the extra funds. While the vast majority – $30 million – will be allocated to operating expenses, the remaining $7 million will go towards financial aid. Specifically, $5.3 million will go to funding need-based scholarships for low-income students, while the remainder will be parceled out to other, yet undetermined, financial aid programs.

The budget proposal also includes a recommendation to fund level one and level two controlled maintenance projects in higher education, at a total of $25 million according to Mike Hooker, CSU’s executive director of public affairs and communications.

“Of the $30 million for operating, the CSU system will get about 20 percent,” Hooker said in an email to the Collegian. “That translates to roughly $6 million for the CSU-Fort Collins campus.”

Overall, this represents a 5.8% increase in state funding for higher education over the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The $6 million slated to go to CSU represents a 6% increase in funding over the previous year.

Not all schools will receive similar increases. The budget for Western Colorado State University is only set to go up by 4.5%, while the Colorado School of Mines will receive a much heftier bump — in all, the CSM will see its budget increased by about 6.6%. Campuses making up the University of Colorado system will also be relatively well off. Combined, the Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses will see a 6.4% increase in state funding.

Hooker said there are no specifics yet on what the increased budget money would apply to at CSU, but that it would go towards helping keep tuition down and building on the quality of the university.
According to ASCSU President Regina Martel, the increased higher education funding the budget will not directly affect ASCSU, as it is funded completely by student fees.

According to Martel, the call for an increase in funding signals that the state government is renewing its commitment to public higher education after allowing it to slip from atop the priority pile while attempting to get the state through the fiscal problems brought on by the recession. Still, while the $37 million increase is a promising first step, it is a long way away from making up the 27% in funding cuts the system has had to absorb since 2008-2009 fiscal year.

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