The Regents Finance and Facilities Committee voted Monday to raise student fees by $40 and increase tuition 6.3 percent.

The full Board of Regents will vote today on whether to approve a 3.2 percent tuition increase that would be added on top of a 3.1 percent tuition credit mandated by the New Mexico Legislature. The $40 student fee increase would be distributed evenly among Library Services, Athletics, Information Technologies and Johnson Center.

“It is important that we support student services,” said Regent Gene Gallegos, who voted for the measure. “At the budget summit, we talked about keeping tuition increase under 5 percent (without the tuition credit), and this proposal does that.”

Finance and Facilities Committee passed the tuition and fee increases 2-1. Regent Jamie Koch also supported the measure. Regent Don Chalmers voted against the 6.3 percent increase.

Gallegos and Koch shot down a proposal to increase tuition without raising fees. Chalmers pushed for a one-year moratorium against raising student fees because he said raising fees would hurt students’ pockets.

“Cost of living the past year went up 2.1 percent, so one of the proposals is higher than the cost of living and the other is below the cost of living,” Chalmers said. “I, as a benchmark, would like to see tuition increases below the cost of living during these tough times.”
Gallegos said raising student fees now doesn’t guard against raising them in the future.

“The moratorium wouldn’t prevent raising fees in the future,” he said. “It’s a one-year deal and could hurt us in the future.”

After seeing its budget cut by more than $300,000, the Athletics Department would welcome the student-fee increase, Athletics Director Paul Krebs said. He said Athletics receives the second-lowest amount of student fees in the Mountain West Conference.

“We certainly want to see Athletics get more student support, whether that’s in the context of additional fees or redistributing the fees, but I understand that not all students support that,” Krebs said. “I think we’re deserving of more institutional support.”

Krebs said Athletics adds to the University and its mission. He said additional student fees would not go to coach or administrative salaries, but to student-athletes.

Chalmers said he wants to form a committee to follow the money before he can approve a student-fee increase.

“They need the funds, but they have balances now that they can get by for a year, and then during that year have an in-depth study where those funds are being spent,” Chalmers said. “We haven’t seen the student-fees budget about where the funds are going.”