Approved CSU budget sees frozen tuition, million dollar cuts

Serena Bettis

The Colorado State University System Board of Governors met virtually Friday morning for the June board retreat and meeting, where they unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2020-21. 

Key points in the budget discussion included expense reductions of millions of dollars, use of funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and a tuition freeze for the 2020-21 school year. 


Due to the virtual circumstances of the meeting, those who wished to submit public comments did so over email. Faculty, students and alumni submitted a total of 18 comments, 12 of which referred to concerns over non-tenure track faculty contracts and six of which referred to questions regarding CSU Police Department funding. 

“Public comment is an important part of our board meetings and the board considers the comments as we carry out our duties,” Board Chair Nancy Tuor said. “The comments have been very informative and have already been distributed to each individual board member. … Although we had to receive our comments in a different format for this remote meeting, I want to thank those of you individually who each submitted comments, and I wanted to specifically let you know that you have been heard by the board.” 

However, the board did not read aloud any public comments during the meeting. 

“It would be impractical for me to read all the comments verbatim,” Tuor said. “There were many concerns about CSU’s non-tenure track faculty and making sure they are considered and supported during this time. We also received comments about the CSU Police Department funding.”

Budget Reductions

The economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led the board to ask the CSU Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses to cut their budgets by a total of $18 million — $17 million at the Fort Collins campus and $1 million at the CSU-Pueblo campus. 

CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank said the budget package presented at the meeting leans heavily on funds from the federal CARES Act and the board’s reserves, which total $80 million. 

“These sources of funds, in my opinion, will allow us to substantively spare the campus, where the real work of teaching, discovery and engagement occurs,” Frank said. “The budget reductions on our campuses that we’ll be recommending to you maintain the priority that you established of protecting our payroll, and they do not contemplate salary reductions.”

Frank said that, as an institution established by an act of Congress, an important role the University can play is as a stabilizing influence in the economy of the community and state. By asking campuses to cut their budgets, the CSU System, Frank said, will be prepared for any future unanticipated downturns.

“We don’t know where the bottom of this is yet,” Frank said. “This virus has defied us at every turn to predict what will happen. We have great plans for the fall and how to reopen safely, … but none of us know what this virus will throw at us next.” 

CSU President Joyce McConnell said that instead of implementing a 5% budget reduction across the board, they focused on a 3%, 6% and 8% budget reduction at unit levels. 


At the meeting, McConnell mentioned payroll protection as the first major principle when looking at reducing the budget and added teaching, research, engagement, workforce and finance in an email sent to students Friday afternoon. 

“And so our next phase in budget planning will not simply be a 5% across the board, but rather, strategic decision making based on the recommendations that we received from our working groups to help us make the wisest decisions about where our strategic investments need to be at this time,” McConnell said.

Tuition and Fees

CSU resident and nonresident undergraduate students will not see an increase in regular or differential tuition rates from the 2019-2020 school year to the 2020-2021 school year. Resident and nonresident graduate and professional veterinary medicine students will not see regular tuition increases, but may see increases in differential tuition. 

However, housing and dining fees will increase by 1%, or $126 per student, and mandatory student fees will increase by 1.6%, or $18.79 per student, as approved by the Student Fee Review Board and Associated Students of CSU in April. 

According to the budget proposal presented at the board meeting, the housing and dining fee increases are to “maintain the quality balanced against market rates in the private sector locally and at other public universities across Colorado.” 

Additionally, over 20 courses will see new course fees or increased fees, and some courses will see fee reductions or discontinued fees. 

Academic and Student Affairs

Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda introduced two changes to the CSU Faculty Manual regarding the language used throughout. A unanimous decision approved changing the terminology used for different types of faculty in each section of the manual and eliminating the gendered pronouns “he” and “she,” replacing them with “they” or “them.”

Miranda said over the past several years, there has a been a “wholesale revision” of faculty appointment types, especially related to non-tenure track faculty. 

“The sections of the manual that dealt with those appointment types … were changed over the past few years to implement (those changes),” Miranda said. “But many, many other references to faculty all throughout the manual were not changed uniformly as we were making those changes over the past three to four years.” 

Serena Bettis can be reached at or on Twitter @serenaroseb.