Higher education funding uncertain, big tuition hikes possible


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With their budgets already cut and more cuts possibly on the way, New Mexico’s colleges and universities need money.

That could be mean big tuition hikes.

Funding for higher education is up in the air because of the governor, and that has parents and students wondering how much more they could be paying in the fall.

“I think there’s a lot of low income students at the school who couldn’t afford a tuition increase,” said Dora Bean, a student at the University of New Mexico.

Tuition increases are a dreaded thought for any student.

“Honestly, I don’t think I could handle it myself, because I’m paying for all of it,” said Kendall Burns, UNM graduate student.

More money, more debt for a degree. Tuition increases are nothing new. UNM’s tuition has doubled over the last 15 years with an increase nearly ever year. But this coming year could be even heftier for students state-wide.

“Higher Ed. has been cut already, in January 2016, 8 percent,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Lawmakers proposed cutting an additional 1 percent for next year’s fiscal budget to plug the state’s budget deficit and shore up reserves. But Gov. Martinez vetoed higher education funding completely.

In her veto message on why, she mentions the Senate’s failure to confirm her regents during the session.

She promises higher education funding will be restored during the special session, which she has yet to formally call. However, her office has alluded to more cuts across government agencies to replace the tax increase measures in the budget that she rejected.

The uncertainty of what this all means for students has them anxious.

“They want to know what it’s going to cost, they want to know if their professors are going to be there,” Sen. Smith said.

Sen. Smith says he’s watched frustration envelope New Mexico State University students. Currently, the Board of Regents at NMSU is considering an increase in tuition up to 6 percent. A decision has been delayed, however, given the budget issues in Santa Fe.

Similarly, UNM regents are also holding off on any decisions until the budget for higher education is settled.

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