The University of Colorado Board of Regents agreed Thursday to a plan that results in essentially no tuition increase for undergraduate students for the school year that starts in August.

The latest round of federal COVID relief funds makes the formula possible, officials said, compared to the initial budget administrators proposed to the board in February.

The 3% tuition hike that was on the table will be "bought down," using the campus’ one-time relief funds, taking the effective increase to zero percent, said CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue.

Graduate students also will benefit from the federal funding with flat tuition charges and “significant” financial aid provided for the 2021-22 academic year, he said.

The decision marks the fourth consecutive academic year for no tuition increases for undergraduates across the four-campus CU system.

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Also budgeted for the new fiscal year, classified CU-system staff will receive a 3% pay increase beginning July 1, as called for by the state. Faculty and exempt staff will receive a payment equal to 2% of their compensation from July 1 through December 31.

The budget allows for potential 1% to 3% compensation increases for faculty and exempt staff, depending on whether schools meet revenue thresholds from fall enrollment.

Officials said the CU system was the hardest hit during the pandemic among higher education institutions in Colorado, in terms of total dollar amount of lost revenue and increased costs.

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Federal relief money covered $163.9 million of the $420.8 million gap for CU, officials said, leaving the system with a $256.9 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.

Limiting hiring, enacting furloughs, using funding from reserves and other reductions were used to balance the budget, according to administrators.

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The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs saw 4.2% drop in undergraduate students in the fall of 2020 and an overall enrollment decrease of 3.6% for a total of 11,747 students.

Enrollment at UCCS also dropped by 2.4% in the fall of 2019, after 12 years of consecutive growth. That led to using emergency funds to offset decreased revenue and holding off on raises.

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If fall enrollment is lower than expected this year, CU campuses will consider delaying hiring, eliminating positions, mandatory furloughs, layoffs, reductions to travel, deferred maintenance, decreased financial aid, paused campus projects and use of reserve funds.

If fall enrollment is higher than projected, campuses will consider pay increases, adding employees, restoring campus-wide activities, reversing operating cuts, replenishing reserves and restarting campus improvements.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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