ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Tuition and fees at University of New Mexico have doubled over the past decade, with the cost of admission rising at a rate that far exceeds inflation.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/ZWk9DG) that regents approved another hike this month for the 2013-14 school year.
It will rise 13 percent for undergraduate students who take 12 credit hours or less. That’s the biggest jump in nine years, to a cost of about $6,846 in in-state tuition and fees for those students.
Students who take 15 or more credit hours will see a 6.6 percent increase. The university is charging a lower rate per credit hour for those taking more classes in hopes students will graduate faster with less debt.
Despite the increases, officials say UNM is a bargain compared to peer institutions.
The national average cost of tuition and fees at public four-year universities this year was $8,655, which is more than $2,000 above UNM’s cost.
UNM regents president Jack Fortner said the decrease in state funding for the university’s instruction and general budget began after the economy tanked in 2008.
For example, UNM received $194.7 million in state funding in fiscal year 2008. In 2011, that number was $160.7 million, or a 17.4 percent reduction. UNM will get $179.8 million from the state for the upcoming school year.
In addition, New Mexico lawmakers for years imposed the tuition credit, a mandatory cut in state funding that legislators expect the university to make up in tuition increases.
The tuition credit, which was not imposed in this year’s budget and won’t be next budget year, forced the university to either take the hit and trim spending, or ask students to make up the difference through tuition increases.
With the exception of 2007, when the state did not impose the tuition credit, UNM has imposed the tuition credit on students every year since 2003. It did not impose one last year or this year.
Andrew Cullen, an associate vice president at the university, said the tuition credit was a large factor in how much student costs have grown at UNM. He said increasing tuition to offset the tuition credit is like getting a raise at one job but getting a pay cut in another.
But there are other factors that have contributed to the rising tuition. This year, for example, the increase will help pay for faculty and staff pay increases, new faculty, more graduate student assistantships, the hiring of a dean for the new Honors College and other initiatives.
The hikes in tuition and fees have resulted in higher debt levels for UNM students, although they’ve fared well compared to peers around the country.
About 66 percent of students nationwide have student loan debt when they graduate from college, compared to 46 percent at UNM, according to data compiled by the nonprofit Project on Student Debt.