DENVER - If anyone knows how to stretch their dollar on campus, Daisy Rocha Vasquez knows. She is one of nine children, six of whom have gone to college; most of them at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
"I think Metro right now is a very affordable school, right now," Rocha said.
It will be different in the fall. The MSU Denver Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday morning to raise tuition 9 percent for the 2013-14 school year. It is the third phase in a 5-year plan designed to deal with diminishing state funds and an expected dip in enrollment growth.
"Unfortunately, funding for everybody in the state is going down," Rob Cohen, chairman of the Board of the Trustees, said. "It's just a reality that there has to be a tuition increase."
The University of Colorado and Colorado State University have already approved tuition increases of about 9 percent for next year, as well. At MSU Denver, the increase would impact students like Rocha by costing an additional $200 per semester. Right now, tuition for taking 16 credit hours at Metro State is $2,670 per semester.
"For the other separate tuition fees that I need, I have to have a second job for that," Rocha said.
University President Dr. Stephen Jordan (who had his contract renewed for two years at the same meeting) says school leaders have to deal with the difficult conflict of raising tuition at a place that touts itself as catering to lower income students.
"We struggle with that," Jordan said. "I think we take some pride in the fact that we are still - all in tuition and mandatory fees - the lowest cost institution in the state of Colorado."
A national website, AffordableCollegesOnline.org, listed MSU Denver as one of the 100 most affordable colleges in the country before this tuition increase.
Rocha says for a family that has several students at Metro State, this will hit them hard.
"It's just a big deal, just because that also makes the competition harder to start looking for more scholarships, especially trying to find scholarships on campus," Rocha said.
MSU Denver had initiated its own policy for accepting undocumented students. But, Jordan says the tuition increase will not impact them at all because the recently passed ASSET Bill which allows undocumented students to receive in-state tuition next year will actually reduce their tuition costs.
"The end result is what matters," Jordan said.
Rocha wonders why the school doesn't make more cuts instead of raising costs for students.
"What I would say to someone who would just say cut expenses as opposed to increased tuition is what we've done is done both," Cohen said.
Rocha says she will have to find a way to stretch her dollar even more.
"No, I don't like the idea," Rocha said. "Especially coming from a family of nine, it's really difficult."
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)