The Board of Regents will discuss raising tuition costs, covering employee retirement benefits and work toward approving a 2011-12 operating budget during an open meeting today in the SUB Ballroom.

On the table is a 5 percent tuition increase, on top of a 3.1 percent mandated by the State Legislature. The regents will also discuss the Education Retirement Board swap, where higher administration would, on top of other cost-cutting measures, have to pay 1.75 percent more into their pensions so faculty and staff don’t have to.

The budget summit starts at 9 a.m.

The regents will look at cost-containment measures presented by UNM President David Schmidly to offset a $5.4 million revenue decrease, according to UNM’s Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis.

Measures to save money include a $2.9 million reduction within Information Technologies, more than $800,000 in overall cuts from every department except Arts and Sciences, and another proposal to sell the South Championship Golf Course for about $600,000.

The Athletics Department is expected to receive a $385,000 cut.
Students could also pay 31 cents less in fees. The approval could affect some student services because Schmidly said he would not give any student fees to the Campus Office of Substance Abuse and Prevention (COSAP).

Not everything in the budget will be cut.
The regents will look to approve about a $2.2 million increase to UNM Press, faculty promotions and more part-time faculty instructors.
The debate surrounding tuition increases and employee pension pay will highlight the regents meeting.

In-state tuition at main campus is $5,506 a year. That total is less than the national average, and New Mexico college students pay one of the five cheapest tuition rates in the nation, according to a report by the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Pennsylvania students pay an average of $14,416 in-state tuition, the highest in the nation.

Even the 5 percent increase recommended by the UNM regents is below national averages. For instance, Arizona and Georgia students are facing increases of more than 20 percent in their tuition costs, according to the report.

Still, tuition has increased by more than $1,700 in the past five years and out-of-state students pay $18,691 each year.

Tuition increases may protect faculty and staff from pay cuts.

The New Mexico Legislature saved more than $50 million by reducing its contribution to the Educational Retirement Board. As a result, state employees must pay an additional 1.75 percent into their pensions. However, UNM’s higher administration will cover the increase for all faculty and staff if the regents approve the ERB swap.

The Board of Regents meeting is the beginning of the end of a year-long budget process that has included recommendations from faculty, staff, students and higher administrations.