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CU Professor Proposes Flat Tuition Rate For All Students

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CBS4's Mike Hooker talks with Roger Pielke (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mike Hooker talks with Roger Pielke (credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – College is pricey, especially for students from out of state. Now one professor at the University of Colorado is proposing a flat rate for all students.

Right now the base tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates is about $4,500 each semester. For out-of-state students it’s more than $15,000.

As students move back into dorms in-state students say they wouldn’t want to pay more and out-of-state students say it would be great to pay less. Environmental Studies Prof. Roger Pielke had his commentary published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, proposing that all students pay the same.

Iris Ebert is from New Mexico. Her parents are helping her move in for her freshman year at CU where out-of-state tuition is $29,000 a year.

“I got a small scholarship here. They don’t offer a lot of money out of state, but my parents are able to pay the rest,” Ebert said.

“A lower overall tuition would make the university much more competitive nationally, internationally, it would help attract faculty,” Pielke said.

Pielke says he thinks one flat-rate tuition for all students would be a bold and creative tuition reform. He’s not involved with CU’s budget work, but he’s thrown his idea out on a national stage to scrap the $9,000 in-state tuition and the $29,000 out-of-state rate and go with a flat tuition of $14,000 a year.

“This is not a proposal to increase the cost to Colorado residents. This is a new model for thinking about how we fund the university and how we have transparency to what those actual costs are,” Pielke said.

“It’s okay to have the discussion, but as a matter of turning the discussion into policy, it’s much, much trickier than what’s being proposed by Prof. Pielke,” CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.

Hilliard says, for instance, the state requires a certain percentage of in-state students, and there’s financial aid to consider. He says flat tuition is not an idea the university would consider, especially with a big tuition increase that would scare off in-state freshmen.

“Then we’d be stuck trying to figure out in the subsequent years how we get back to the state-mandated level of 55 percent residency in every freshman class,” Hilliard said.

Pielke says even with a flat rate, Colorado could still subsidize individual students to bring the cost back down while still having a tuition that reflects the actual cost of education there. He does say this is really a discussion starter, not a ready-to-go tuition plan.

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