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Regent Bradley C. Hosmer speaks to attendees of the Tuesday afternoon regent meeting that was held in the SUB Ballroom. The Tuesday meeting mentioned a 2.5% increase in tuition along with a tuition decrease for medical students.

Regent Bradley C. Hosmer speaks to attendees of the Tuesday afternoon regent meeting that was held in the SUB Ballroom. The Tuesday meeting mentioned a 2.5% increase in tuition along with a tuition decrease for medical students.

UNM regents approves tuition cut for med students

For the second consecutive year, medical students at the UNM Health Sciences Center will see a little more money in their wallets as the Board of Regents approved a one percent decrease in tuition just a couple of hours before approving a tuition increase for students on main campus.

The result is a loss of $67,000 in potential tuition revenue.

According to the HSC budget, even after the tuition cut, the HSC is still projected to make about $24.3 million via tuition from all HSC academic programs.

The change in tuition continues a trend for the UNM School of Medicine, where Dean Paul B. Roth has made it an initiative to make enrollment as cost-effective as possible for students.

“This one percent was a commitment that I made to the students that we continue cutting cost,” he said.

Ava Lovell, senior executive officer for Finance and Administration at the HSC, said the HSC is expecting to see revenue increase by a little over $7 million next year after expenses, resulting in about $642 million of total revenue, as well as spending for recruitment, scholarships, etc.

On the clinical side of things, Lovell said the HSC is projecting a four percent revenue increase due to improved “operational efficiencies” as well as expansion of local healthcare services and an increase in patient discharges.

Roth said student debt for medical students totals about $132,000 by the time they graduate, a number that is steadily growing.

He said they are working on creating more scholarships for students to ease the burden.

Before the vote was taken, Roth outlined forthcoming challenges for the Health Sciences Center, including having to operate with less resources, staying relevant in an increasingly competitive market and integrating increasingly evolving technology.

“The biggest challenge we’ll be facing next fiscal year will be dramatic cuts in our reimbursement and Medicaid,” Roth said.

Roth said the HSC will have to contend with a $30 million cut.

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“It’s a big pill we’re all going to have to swallow soon,” he said.

Roth said the HSC and its products continue to have a presence throughout the state as far as health care, education and research. According to the HSC, the most impacted areas are the Four Corners region, and the areas around Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

“We often say that the HSC at UNM has the largest campus in the world, and it’s the state of New Mexico,” he said.

The HSC made several strides in expanding its reputation and services over the last year as well, Roth said. That includes inclusion in several top rankings for educational programs, including being named second in the country for rural medicine.

The UNM Cancer Center was also awarded the highest possible federal distinction from the National Cancer Institute, and the Board of Regents approved the establishment of a new College of Population Health, which Roth said will be only the second college of its kind in the nation once it opens next year.

Much of the ongoing success of the HSC plays a factor in the ability to lower the price of tuition for students.

“My hope is to continue cutting tuition,” Roth said. “In spite of keeping tuition at a zero percent increase for several years in a row, our student debt continues to rise, mostly as a result of cost of living.”

Regent Marron Lee also suggested, as a solution to alleviate the debt that is accumulated over time, that personal management classes be made available to students.

Roth said a new head of financial aid was recently hired to meet that end, and new counseling programs have sprouted as a result.

According to U.S. News, in 2014, UNM’s medical school was the fifth-cheapest for in-state students at about $19,400 for tuition and fees. By comparison, the cost of attending University of Texas Houston’s medical school as an in-state student was $16,300.

David Lynch is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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