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

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

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”