The University of New Mexico’s tuition and controversial athletic debt funding loomed over the March 7 Associated Students of New Mexico meeting.
Earlier that day, several high-ranking ASUNM members, including President Noah Brooks and Vice President Sally Midani, met with University Administration members to discuss the Board of Regents’ plan to increase tuition in correlation with the potential increase in the athletic department budget, according to Brooks.
During the ASUNM meeting, Brooks presented two possible scenarios to Senators.
In the first scenario, ASUNM would not respond to possible tuition increases.
The athletics department is currently equipped with a budget of $3.3 million, and under this scenario it is estimated that the budget would increase to $4 million. Consequently, student fees would increase by $700,000.
Brooks said the Board of Regents could not make more department cuts.
“There (are) literally no resources left,” he said. “They cut so many positions.”
Thus, the $700,000 addition would largely come from student fees and tuition.
The second scenario proposed that Brooks would officially endorse a tuition increase that would affect students in a sliding scale based on their financial need.
The proposed tuition increase would result in an estimated $4.4 million. Of that $4.4 million, $500,000 would return to financial aid and be given to “students that are most in need.”
The middle section of need-based students would see an estimated 0.5 percent increase in their tuition while the people with the least amount of need-based financial aid, would see estimated 3 percent increase in tuition.
Brooks also said a portion of the money gained from a possible tuition increase would be returned to necessary areas of the University that are not the athletic debt — areas such as academic investment, safety and security.
“People want security and safety to be better at the University of New Mexico, but there’s no way we can do that with the financial state we are in now,” Brooks said.
“Funding is going to go to athletics no matter what with this group of Regents,” Midani said.
Regarding the second scenario, she said, “If tuition is increased, students will benefit from that because there are benefits from that.”
Sen. Jack Hodge asked Brooks how likely it is the Regents will accept a compromise.
“To be completely honest, I have no idea with this Board of Regents,” Brooks said in response.
He also said that at this point, the Board of Regents is not yet aware of Brook’s proposal.
Sen. Ben Satchel asked if the increase in tuition would be a permanent change.
Brooks said it will more than likely be a permanent raise, adding, “If we don’t do this, they will either take money from other sources or they will raise student fees, but it also means less safety and financial aid.”
Brooks said he plans to present his financial compromise at the March 21 budget summit.
The summit will be held at 1 p.m. in Scholes Hall.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers the Board of Regents. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AustinATyra.