ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — University of New Mexico students could see a bigger school bill next year.
UNM President David Schmidly proposed--and the university regents accepted--a proposed 3.75 percent tuition increase and an extra $66.71 in student fees.
The combined hike will cost an in-state undergraduate student a little less than $300 a year if the increase is finalized as part of UNM's budget in late April.
A large chunk of that increase is set to go to the school's athletics department, which has run up a debt of more than $1.25 million.
"We have made no secret of the fact that we'll have a deficit this year in large part due to the transition in our football program," said UNM Athletics Vice President Paul Krebs.
The UNM football team suffered from poor attendance and has gone through a coaching change in the last year. Those problems on top of a decline in state funding has left UNM athletics with a budget hole.
Schmidly said the university plans to give the department a loan to get it back in the black, but his proposal also asks for additional financial support from student fees.
Under the proposal students would each pay $131.75 a year for athletics, up $50 from last year. Athletics had asked the Student Fee Review Board, a student-run group that makes recommendations on student fees to the UNM Board of Regents, for an increase of $67.98 but was turned down.
"I do not believe we should be held accountable for a debt we did not impose on ourselves," said UNM student Diego Guevara Beltran.
"Student fees should pay for services students receive, not debts that we did not cause," said Jaymie Roybal, president of the Associated Student of UNM.
Krebs defended the fee hike pointing to university data showing UNM athletics receiving low levels of student fees and state funding compared to athletics departments at other Mountain West schools.
Students did win a small victory. Schmidly had been proposing another student fee hike of $27 to pay for university libraries, but backed off Friday morning after pressure from student government to find the money elsewhere.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.