"There will no longer be public funding for higher education in the state of Colorado," Frank said. "It will happen within the next 7 to 10 years on our watch."
Frank did mention that for the 2013 year, he expects higher education funding may increase. But, he cites a report published by the Center for Colorado's Economic Future which predicts a $3.3 billion revenue shortfall in 2024.
Frank believes this may lead to a complete "de-funding" of public colleges in Colorado. He says colleges like CSU are already too dependent on tuition versus state funding.
"Twenty years ago, tuition supported only a third of that cost whereas today, it approaches 75 percent," said Frank.
Tyler Schott is a junior studying mechanical engineering at CSU. He worries about the impact of little to no state funding.
"There's a lot of underprivileged people that get to come to universities because of that state funding," Schott said.
Schott also worries that students will end up making up for the lost state funds with even more back-breaking tuition increases.
"Tuition has raised. Since I started, it's raised like 25 to 30 percent," Schott said. "So, that money's got to come from somewhere."
Frank says he does not want CSU to prepare for a possible "storm" of de-funding by placing it squarely on the backs of students paying higher tuition.
Instead, Frank wants to take a more balanced approach by increasing enrollment of out-of-state and international students who pay higher tuition rates. He also wants to increase overall tuition to 35,000 students to stablize CSU's finances without state support. Frank calls this plan CSU 2020.
"We've cut expenses," Frank said. "We've taken transparency and accountability to new levels. We've balanced our budget. We've strengthened our reserves."
Schott worries that increased enrollment sounds more like overcrowding.
"Those higher level classes there's 10 kids in a class," Schott said. "You start getting more, you start putting more pressure on the instructors and it doesn't become as personal an education."
Frank says the university may have little choice if it is forced to become financially independent from the state government.
"We have and we will. We can and we must tell the story and make the case for saving higher education," Frank said.
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