Metropolitan State University of Denver would set aside $3.5 million for compensation increases while funding about $1 million in new branch priorities under a budget recommendation from the University Planning and Budget Advisory Council. 

In the recommendation submitted last week to President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., the group also endorsed a 3% increase in tuition for in-state students and a 4% increase for out-of-state students. The increases would apply only to first-year and new transfer students due to MSU Denver’s Tuition Lock program. 

The council, which includes representatives from all campus academic and administrative branches, had the difficult task of developing a balanced budget that funds University priorities amid potential enrollment declines resulting from the rough rollout of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, said Budget Director and council Chair Andrew Rauch. 

In crafting its recommendation, UPBAC assumed that enrollment next school year would be down 1%, which translates to a $1.1 million reduction in revenue. The committee’s recommended budget for fiscal-year 2025 is around $220 million, based on the assumptions made throughout the process.  

“Enrollment projections continue to be the biggest variable because of the ongoing challenges with the FAFSA,” Rauch said. “This was top-of-mind for the committee as it considered how to support President Davidson’s budget priorities and submit a balanced budget.”  

Rauch noted that despite the uncertain enrollment outlook, increases in the state’s appropriation for higher education will result in an additional $9 million in state support for MSU Denver next year. The tuition increase would provide an additional $1.1 million in revenue. 

Davidson will consult UPBAC’s recommendation as she develops a budget proposal that the University’s Board of Trustees will consider for approval during meetings June 13-14. 

Two options for pay raises

The recommendation lays out rationale for two pay raise options for President Davidson to consider relative to faculty and non-classified administrative staff: an across-the-board 2% increase or a flat dollar amount of $988.  

In addition to across-the-board pay raises, UPBAC recommended that the University set aside $1 million to cover potential pay increases that result from the findings of a compensation-equity study that is currently underway.  

“Setting aside funds to address the findings of the comp-equity study follows President Davidson’s budget priority of investing in our people,” said Chief Financial Officer Jim Carpenter. “It strengthens the competitiveness and equity of MSU Denver’s compensation system to support faculty and staff.” 

Classified employees will see a 3% raise that was mandated by state lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis. That’s one of several mandatory cost increases totaling more than $3.8 million that the University will have to cover in next year’s budget.  

Funding for branch priorities  

After hearing budget requests from each of the University’s academic and administrative branches, UPBAC also agreed to recommend $1 million in new spending on advising systems, infrastructure and more support for alumni- and donor-relations efforts, among other priorities. UPBAC’s proposal includes:  

Academic Affairs  

  • $16,000 for School of Hospitality preventive maintenance  
  • $83,000 for academic advisors and advising systems  

Student Affairs 

  • $56,000 for a reenrollment-and-marketing campaign  
  • $50,000 for one-time expenditures in Financial Aid related to FAFSA simplification  

Administration Finance and Facilities 

  • $335,000 for the ShoreTel/Mitel phone-system replacement for the call center  
  • $160,000 to reinstate the campuswide remodel budget to pre-Covid levels  

Office of Diversity and Inclusion 

  • $25,000 in operating funds for campus affinity groups 

University Marking and Communications 

  • $25,000 in one-time funding to conduct a website-accessibility audit 

University Advancement 

  • $50,000 to support increased alumni relations 
  • $20,000 for additional donor-relations support  
  • $20,000 in one-time funding to address the December 2024 Commencement shift  

Athletics 

  • $150,000 to cover inflationary increases associated with travel and equipment 

General Counsel 

  • $75,000 for a part-time Title IX and civil-rights investigator 

The council also recommended that if enrollment is better than expected, additional revenues should be directed to provide an additional 1% compensation increase. Any additional revenue available after that would be directed to the University’s reserve fund. 

With the uncertainty around enrollment revenue, UPBAC did not recommend setting aside funds in next year’s budget for University reserves. Instead, the council recommended that unspent funds from this year’s budget be directed into reserves at the end of the fiscal year.