LAS CRUCES, N.M. - NMSU is on its way to raising tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year and the university finding itself in a tight situation amid the ongoing budget crisis in New Mexico.
The board of regents held a special meeting Friday to discuss a possible 6% increase. NMSU typically waits to get the governor's signature to agree on a tuition increase, but the board says they've had to work around the issues at the state level. Universities across the state are in the same boat, because they don't know how much money higher education will receive as part of the budget.
The proposed tuition & fees blended increases include:
- 6% at NMSU Las Cruces
- 4.9% at NMSU Alamogordo
- 15.2% at NMSU Carlsbad
- 5.9% at NMSU Dona Ana
- 8.9% at NMSU Grants
ABC-7 obtained a letter sent to NMSU students last month, advising them about a possible tuition hike. It states the blended increases would be in effect for the 2017-2018 academic year and would include a 6% increase in rates.
President Garrey Carruthers tells ABC-7 it will not exceed that amount. The increase translates to a $196.50 increase for in-state undergraduate student taking 15 credits or more and a $151.20 increase for in-state graduate students taking nine credits or more.
"It's time right now that we need an increase, because if we don't do it now, and we need it now, but then you'll go along with no tuition increase then you have to make it 10 or 12% increase, and so we're going to have that discussion with regents probably in the next couple of weeks to try to resolve the issue," President Carruthers said.
The plan will be good to go, if Governor Susana Martinez approves the budget. If she nixes everything, then the university could be in big trouble--students could pay nearly triple what they're paying now.
"We would have to charge between 19 and 20,000 a year tuition which would just not going to work."
President Carruthers tells ABC-7 he's confident that won't happen.
"It would not happen. It's not going to happen. The governor is going to come up with a reasonable accommodation I'm confident that she's going to sign the bill and so I think we're worrying lot about things that are not going to happen."
If signed, the university still has one more hurdle to pass, getting the Board of Regents finance committee to approve the proposed tuition plan. Carruthers says the hike is needed to overcome several major problems.
NMSU is recovering from a 5.8% cut made in the special session last year and they're working to bring in much-needed revenue to replace that loss.
"I'm going to say that our regents are fairly well satisfied we're trying to become an efficient university and that they're going to be understanding of our requests."
The university is also dealing with declining enrollment. Carruthers says while they're seeing a spike in admissions and transfer students, they still have to err on the side of caution.
"So we're going to be optimistic, but for budget purposes, you have to be conservative."
The board of regents will have another meeting in a couple of weeks to again talk about a tuition hike. Governor Martinez is expected to sign the budget on Tuesday.