CSU Board of Governors approves budgets; 3% merit pool for faculty and staff

Editor’s note: The Fort Collins campus budget includes a faculty and administrative professional salary merit pool increase of 3% for determination of distribution by each unit. The budget also includes a 3% pay increase for graduate teaching and research assistant stipends, as well as a 3% pay increase for state classified staff planned and ratified by the Colorado Legislature earlier this spring.

The Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System this week adopted a budget that minimizes tuition increases for Colorado students, includes a 3% merit pool for faculty and staff at the CSU Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses, and allows the Fort Collins campus to start long-awaited renovations on its most heavily used classroom building.

“Thanks to the support of the Legislature and Governor, the CSU System is in stable shape heading into the new fiscal year, which is great news so soon after the pandemic shutdown,” Chancellor Tony Frank said. “We have been able to provide modest increases for our employees and have kept tuition increases well below the rate of inflation – and below the average of prior years.”

Statewide general fund appropriations to higher education in Colorado increased by $105.3 million (11.4%) this year, and from this, the CSU System received a 10.4% increase in new funds (about $19 million) over the previous year. These funds will allow the campuses to cover salary increases and mandated and inflationary increases in campus operating costs.

Perhaps the most celebrated part of the budget for students at the System’s flagship campus is the funding received for the renovation and expansion of the Clark Building built in 1968. Ninety-nine percent of CSU students take at least one class in Clark, and students for years have rated it as their highest priority for improvement, citing its aging infrastructure and classrooms that weren’t designed for today’s more collaborative, integrated learning environment. The state this year approved $38 million in funding for the first phase of the renovation (including $8 million in state capital funds). The total, three-phase project is expected to cost between $120 million to $130 million.

CSU Fort Collins also received $7.6 million in new funding for controlled maintenance and $646,000 for network hardware improvements in the state budget. CSU Pueblo received $3.8 million for controlled maintenance and $458,000 in communications technology upgrades.

For Pueblo and Fort Collins, the budgets approved by the Board of Governors this week include a 2% resident undergraduate tuition increase to assist the campuses in keeping up with inflation and closing revenue gaps from the pandemic year. This means an annual increase of $194 for a full-time CSU Fort Collins student and $131 for a full-time CSU Pueblo student. With this increase, resident undergraduate tuition rates have gone up a total 8.2% in the last five fiscal years, which included two years with no increase at all.

Graduate students in Fort Collins will not see a tuition increase this year. This will also be the 10th straight year of zero tuition increases at CSU Global, the nation’s first fully online public university.

Chancellor Frank said providing a pay increase to faculty and staff at Pueblo and Fort Collins was a top priority for the campuses, where people have worked tirelessly to keep the universities operating during the pandemic. (CSU Global, which receives no state funding, operates on a different business model that ties pay increases to the operational success of the university.)

“We’re glad to be able to provide a 3% raise, even as we recognize that housing, health care, and the cost of living are placing a lot of pressure on employees who are trying to balance their own family budgets,” Frank said. “Providing competitive salaries and benefits that allow us to recruit and retain excellent employees is an ongoing focus for the campuses and the Board of Governors.”

The three CSU System campuses, and the out-of-state students they attract in an average year, fuel nearly 23,000 Colorado jobs and roughly $238 million in state income and sales tax revenue annually. The campuses – the flagship research university in Fort Collins; CSU Pueblo, a regionally focused Hispanic-serving institution; and the fully online CSU Global – together enroll more than 60,000 new and returning students each year. The CSU System has nearly 300,000 living alumni worldwide.