State colleges take the 9 percent option

The 2010 legislature allowed state colleges and universities to raise tuition 9 percent for resident undergraduates, and that’s just what colleges have done.

There’s one variation to that pattern in the CU system, and the Colorado State University Board of Governors won’t vote until later this month on tuition rates for the Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses.

The increases for next year kick off what could be a series of annual 9 percent raises through 2015-16. The state is moving to a new but temporary system of giving college trustees more freedom to set tuition rates (see this story for details).

Next year’s tuition increases are expected to raise roughly an additional $125 million for college budgets.

Rates for Colorado resident undergraduates are rising 9 percent at Adams State College, the Colorado School of Mines, the Community College System, Fort Lewis College, Mesa State College, Metropolitan State College, the University of Northern Colorado and Western State College.

In the University of Colorado system, the hike will be 9 percent at the Boulder and Denver campuses and 7.2 percent in Colorado Springs.

College boards already have freedom to set tuition as they choose for non-resident undergrads and for graduate students. Non-resident undergrad increases range from none at Fort Lewis and 2 percent at CU’s Denver and Colorado Springs campuses to 9 percent at Metro.

Percentage increases in non-resident rates often are lower than for residents because the out-of-state base is so much larger to start with.

Some Colorado students will see increased financial aid to offset the higher tuition. The primary beneficiaries will be the lower-income students eligible for federal grants.

Celina Duran, financial aid administrator for the Department of Higher Education, did an estimate of available Pell funds for Education News Colorado. Here are her projections:

(Figures for 2008-09 are actual; those for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are estimates.)

  • Total Pell aid (includes private and propriety colleges) – $182.6 million in 2008-09, $206.5 million this year and $214.2 million next year.
  • Pell aid at state colleges: $133.1 million, $150.5 million and $156 million.

Individual maximum Pell grants also have been rising, from $4,731 in 2008-09 to $5,350 this year. The maximum will be $5,560 next year.

As an example of the impact, at Adams State officials say tuition and fees will increase $516 for the year and that top-level Pell recipients will see their grants rise about $200.

Over the last five years base resident undergraduate tuition at state colleges has grown between 24 and 45 percent (see DHE tuition statistics).

In an overlapping but slightly different time period (2004 to 2009) total aid at Colorado colleges grew 44.2 percent. For the 2008-09 school year (the latest for which full data is available from DHE), students at Colorado colleges received $1.7 billion in financial aid and loans (see most recent financial aid report).

That broke down to $327.8 million from the institutions, $253.3 million in federal aid, $108.5 million from the state, $62.2 million from other sources and $972.4 million in loans.

Overall aid from the state treasury grew 34 percent from 2004 to 2009 (although merit-based aid dropped 78 percent) while institutional aid grew 138.9 percent.

The state has struggled to maintain its financial aid contribution, and it’s held the line on need-based aid partly by slashing merit-based aid to nothing. State financial aid budgeted at about $106 million for 2010-11, an increase of less than 1 percent.

Institutions, as the 138.9 percent jump shows, have been working to increase their aid. In recent years the state has required part of tuition increases to be plowed back into aid. Colleges have also taken their own steps.

As an example, Adams State is raising one fee so that it can offer a new merit scholarship program next year.

EdNews background story on tuition trends in Colorado and the West

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede