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Regents approve $2.6 billion operating budget for FY 2009-10

University  of Colorado Board of Regents
University of Colorado Board of Regents
The University of Colorado Board of Regents on Monday approved a $2.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2009-10, a 5.7 percent increase over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The final vote was 6-2, with regents James E. Geddes, R-Sedalia, and Tom Lucero, R-Johnstown, dissenting.

The increase reflects more research activity, additional tuition revenue and more revenue from auxiliary enterprises such as parking, housing and dining services. It also features significant increases directed toward instruction and decreases in administrative costs, according to Kelly Fox, vice president and chief financial officer for the university system.

According to system administration, funding for instruction across the university's campuses increased 8.2 percent, from $691 million to $747 million in fiscal year 2009-10, and funding for administration decreased 1.9 percent, from $149 million to $146 million.

"It's important for us to focus our resources on our fundamental activities, which happen in the classrooms and research laboratories on our campuses," said CU President Bruce Benson.

At its meeting last month, the board approved tuition rate increases of 1.2 to 1.7 percent at the UC Denver Downtown Campus, 3.9 percent at the CU-Boulder campus, and 5 percent at UCCS. The regents also approved changes to how students are charged per credit hour, known as linearity, which will mean additional cost increases for some. Those changes vary by program and campus.

While the university increased tuition, it also increased financial aid to ensure access. Financial aid the university generates is approaching the $100 million mark. Financial aid provided by the state has remained stable. Over the past decade, CU has markedly increased the amount it offers in institutional financial aid per full-time equivalent student. In 1998, the university provided $517 per full-time student. In next year's budget, it will be $2,125. Over the same period, state financial aid increased from $238 per full-time student to $445.

While the overall budget increased, some $50 million is one-time money from the federal government as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which was allocated by the state of Colorado. However, the university faces mandatory increases in areas such health, life and dental insurance, as well as building costs. Additionally, some of its endowments saw shortfalls in earnings because of the economy. As a result, CU cut $29 million from its fiscal year 2009-10 budget and is scheduled to cut $21 million more in fiscal year 2010-11.

"We appreciate the stimulus money the state provided to help us weather the economic storm," Benson said. "But it is prudent for us to reduce our budget to prepare for more difficult times ahead."

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