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October2010 Volume 5 | Issue 3

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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What a great time to be involved with Colorado State University! So much to do, so many opportunities yet to discover – faculty, staff, students, and families have much to be thankful for this fall! This month, we want to take a few minutes to update you on the following items: Former Foster Youth Care Packages, CSU Engagement through Homecoming & Family Weekend and Call-A-Ram, midterm support and success, and feedback on e-billing and the one payment due date.

First, we are overwhelmed with the care and generosity you have shown in supporting our Former Foster Youth Care Package initiative. To date, CSU families have donated over $2,500 in cash, over $500 in gift cards, and many tangible items, including: Frisbees, shampoo, conditioner, ink pens, hot chocolate, and fleece blankets for our students. In terms of next steps, the Foster Care Workgroup will meet this week to create the care packages and deliver the final product to the students. We’ll be sure to include an article next month – complete with photos – on the process and how the final care packages turned out, but we want everyone to know how grateful we are for the amount of support given to the first year students who identify as Former Foster Youth. Your heartfelt letters and fantastic aid show that actions speak louder than words. Thank you for encouraging these students.

Next, CSU works to develop a positive relationship with parents and families. We want you to be engaged in University events, support student success, and give to the University through outreach, service or fundraising. In the spirit of this relationship, we want to be sure you’re aware of two upcoming events to support the University: Homecoming & Family Weekend and Call-A-Ram.

Homecoming & Family Weekend is only a few weeks away – October 15-17! We hope you received our registration reminder email in late September, and if you haven’t yet registered, we want to be sure you know four of our most popular Family Weekend events are closed: football game packages, volleyball tickets, Housing Options After the First Year, and the Family Weekend breakfast. If you haven’t registered for the weekend events, we encourage you to do so before October 8. There are no additional costs associated with many of the events – we just want to be sure we’re adequately planning for space needs! If you’re not sure which events to attend, see the Homecoming & Family Weekend article below.

Call-A-Ram is a student-run phone-a-thon. While they work to fundraise for many areas on campus, these fabulous students will be calling October 25 – November 7 to talk with you about your student’s experience and to fundraise for the Parents Fund. You can learn more about it in the Call-A-Ram article below.

Third, October is traditionally a tough month for students. Mid-October marks the uphill path of the ‘hump’ between midterms and fall break. Homework and midterm tests begin to cause additional stress, it is beginning to get darker earlier, and, for many students, the ‘newness’ of being a college student is starting to wear off. If your student begins to feel the stress of the semester, remind him or her to reach out and use available resources: The Institute for Learning and Teaching, faculty member office hours, and study groups are all great resources for students. It’s not too late to improve grades! This can also be the month when students begin to talk about transferring to a new institution. If you hear ‘transfer talk’ (“I don’t like my classes.” “I’m not getting along with my roommate.” “I hate Fort Collins.”), please encourage your student to focus on getting through the semester successfully and don’t engage in ‘transfer talk’ until the semester break. Usually, if we can help students be successful between midterms and fall break, they will continue their studies at CSU. Care packages from home can’t hurt, either!

Lastly, we want to thank those of you who provided feedback on the new online University payment system. We heard that many families were frustrated, felt unprepared to make the shift, and we received constructive criticism on how to better communicate the change and help students and families understand the new statements. We’ve compiled all of the feedback and sent it to Student Financial Services and the Bursar’s Office. They have indicated they will use it when evaluating the system this fall and are grateful for the information, as it provides ‘real’ impact as opposed to projected impact.

We hope to see you in a few weeks for Homecoming & Family Weekend!

Take care,

Jody & Kacee

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of Students
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312
jody.donovan@colostate.edu

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312
kacee.collard@colostate.edu

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Update on Tuition

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Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

I think I ended my last message to you by stating that I'd be writing to keep you informed about the unfolding fiscal situation so we could differentiate rumor from fact. Unfortunately, we're already starting to see some confusion and misrepresentation out there about next year's tuition increases, so I wanted to clarify where things stand and what we do and don't know at this point.

First, despite what you may have read, we have NOT made any tuition decisions for next year. Colorado State University doesn't make decisions about issues like tuition and budget cuts without significant opportunity for members of our campus community to weigh in and be heard. We are following our typical budget process, which has already included discussions with ASCSU, Faculty Council, Cabinet, the Council of Deans, and the Board of Governors of the CSU System. These discussions will be on-going throughout the year and will include other employee groups. I'm scheduled to brief the Student Senate on the 20th of this month. The process will include our open Planning & Budget Hearings in January, our Budget Open Forums in March, and will conclude with our Board's passage of an official budget after the General Assembly sets funding levels for higher education during the spring.

As part of this process, we’ve developed a skeleton budget for next year that reflects the multiyear plan we’ve been implementing to prepare for the loss of federal ARRA stimulus funds and avoid the budgetary “cliff” we would have faced had we not reduced our spending gradually over the last couple of years. As some of you may recall, when the state decided to backfill its severe budget cuts to higher education over the last two years with stimulus money, we had a choice: We could either assume that the state would find a way to restore those funds to higher ed once the stimulus money ran out, or we could use the stimulus funds as a bridge while we stepped down our budget to absorb the full reduction. We took the second course, which has forced us to make tough cuts the last few years but helped us avoid the cliff that other organizations are now facing. This hasn’t been easy: During fiscal years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, CSU will have seen a $30M cut in state support—about 23% of our state funding.

In the meantime, the Colorado legislature passed SB-03 last spring, recognizing that state colleges and universities have been hit hard by the state’s budget crisis and need the flexibility to increase tuition to deal with reductions in public funding. Under SB03, campuses can raise tuition up to 9% without legislative approval, and if they need to raise tuition higher than that, they have to file a “financial accountability plan” with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Our skeleton budget for FY12 builds on our past budget approaches, anticipating that we will deal with the loss of the remaining ARRA funds via additional cuts and with the up-to 9% tuition increase (an additional $237/semester for a full-time resident UG) allocated to us by Senate Bill-03.

But, given recent state revenue projections showing that the state may be facing an additional $40M hole, we now know the state will be looking at even deeper budget cuts. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Joint Budget Committee of the legislature, and all three gubernatorial candidates have talked about this issue and all recognize that higher education is the largest, unprotected portion of the state’s budget pie. Some projections show higher ed funding cut an additional $55M, roughly $11M of which would come from CSU.

Further complicating the situation—and the source of today’s confusion—is that the implementation of SB-03 requires colleges and universities to submit their potential tuition/“financial accountability” plans to the state during October, far in advance of any knowledge about what the state's funding for higher education will look like. This means that, lacking any solid information, we have had to develop and submit a tuition plan that would cover all possible budget possibilities — both what we hope for and realistically expect and our worst-case scenarios. This actually isn’t new for CSU; we’ve made it our practice to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but we typically try not to trumpet our worst- case projections as if they’re a done deal.

They’re not. But we do have some tough financial challenges ahead.  If CSU were to lose an additional $11 million or more beyond what we’ve already projected, we have very limited ways to maintain educational quality. We would examine deeper cuts, and we would also need to take a hard look at pricing and tuition.

One option under consideration and discussed in the “financial accountability plan” we submitted is closing the credit hour gap.
CSU’s full-time tuition rate is only 10 credit hours — at UNC, CU- Denver, Mesa State, Metro, and even CSU-Pueblo, it’s 12 credit hours. At Colorado School of Mines, it’s 15; CU-Boulder, 11. If we stop discounting the cost of a CSU education, close that gap, and bring CSU into alignment with other Colorado schools, it would cost our students an additional $525 per semester (the 20% increase that’s been reported; $288 per semester more than the 9% base tuition increase afford under SB03). Right now, if we did this, we could deal with a potential 24% additional cut in state funding while limiting additional cuts to the university to the 10% range and asking our employees to go a 4th year without salary increases.  That’s one option — there are many others, and all of them are up for discussion.

Let’s be clear, we know that any change like this means an increase in cost to the people writing tuition checks, no matter what we call the plan. Whether the increase comes from closing the credit-hour gap or a straight tuition increase, it’s still more money out of pocket for our students. This is not what any of us want, but it’s the reality we face in a time when the state has significantly reduced its support for public higher education - individual students wind up paying more of the cost. Still, we hope to keep resident undergraduate tuition lower, and we also plan to limit non- resident tuition increases to the 3% range and graduate tuition increases to the 5% range based on market factors. We plan to continue to push financial aid and are very committed to preserving access, but we're also aware of confusion among some students and parents who worry that the cost of access is driving our tuition increases. For the record, I want to make it clear that financial aid costs are not what’s driving up tuition; tuition is going up because the state has cut the money it gives CSU to operate. Our new Commitment to Colorado program, for example, is largely federally and privately funded, and CSU-funded scholarships and financial aid account for only about 8% of the total assistance our students receive.

We'll have a lot of opportunity to discuss and debate all these issues over the coming months. The bottom line is that there will be much more discussion and much more communication before any recommendations are made regarding tuition increases for next year, and there will be no attempt to surprise or disguise any increases in the cost of attendance. Given the dire state of Colorado’s budget, we can expect that tuition will rise, but all of us at CSU are well-aware that a lot of our students and their families are struggling — and that’s not something we take lightly. Despite the challenges, our goal must be to preserve a high-quality CSU education - at a reasonable price - and that will be our focus throughout this budget process.

-tony

Dr. Tony Frank
President

 

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Homecoming & Family Weekend

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Homecoming and Family Weekend graphic

It’s that time of year! Homecoming & Family Weekend will be here before we know it. We’ve worked hard to plan sessions that meet the needs of family members and weave these sessions in with the traditional spirit events. The weekend kicks off Friday, October 15, with Housing Options After the First Year. In this session, panelists will help you explore all of your student’s housing options, covering residence halls, fraternity and sorority living, living off-campus, and the pros and cons of purchasing a home in Fort Collins. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at this session, and for those unable to attend or too late to register, we’ll be sure to post the information on the Parent and Family website. Saturday’s Homecoming & Family Weekend Tailgate provides families an opportunity to connect and show your Ram Pride before the football game vs. UNLV. Our Sunday morning RAMFAM Association meeting will focus on student success and will be webcast live for families outside of northern Colorado. Here is a list of all the Family Weekend events:

Friday, October 15, 2010

  • Housing Options After the First Year
  • RAMFAM Association Business Directory Celebration
  • Festival & Reunions on the Oval
  • Homecoming Parade
  • Bonfire, Pep Rally & Fireworks

Saturday, October 16, 2010

  • Homecoming & Family Weekend Tailgate
  • Homecoming Football Game (CSU vs. UNLV)
  • Volleyball Game (CSU vs. UNM)
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Concert

Sunday, October 17, 2010

  • RAMFAM Association Meeting
  • Family Weekend Breakfast

Logistics may change as registration increases, so we’ll send out an email the week before Homecoming & Family Weekend with all of the details. We’re looking forward to seeing you and hope you’ll consider using businesses listed in the RAMFAM Association Business Directory while you’re in town!
 
 

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Emergency Communication Systems

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cell phone call - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=982">Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Jody Donovan, Interim Dean of Students

Communicating with students and family members when the campus is experiences an emergency is an institutional priority. The Public Safety Team consists of a number of individuals from the President’s Cabinet, as well as individuals across campus with direct responsibility for student, faculty, staff and community safety. We have identified a number of methods for communicating during emergencies.

  • RAVE Text Alerts: Students can go on their RamWeb account to register their cell phone number to receive text alerts for immediate safety issues. This service is reserved solely for students and campus personnel who need immediate notification for safety purposes. The texts are concise due to the 140 character limitation.
  • Public Safety Website: This website is updated regularly with campus safety information as well as breaking news during emergencies (www.safety.colostate.edu).  For example, you can click on the above link to learn about the arrest of the shooting suspect on September 23.
  • E-mail: Students, faculty, staff, and family members receive emails with additional information about emergencies, and campus safety tips.
  • Reverse 911 Calls: Campus land-line telephones will receive reverse 911 phone calls directing individuals to either evacuate or stay away from imminent danger.
  • Staff Communication: Colorado State University Police, building proctors, and various campus personnel will communicate through various methods, including announcements, flyers, sirens, etc. when attention needs to be focused on campus safety.
Colorado State University is participating in a comprehensive campus safety audit this month. We anticipate receiving both positive and constructive feedback regarding procedures, protocols, and policies. Please note the Public Safety Team, together with the President, will review this feedback and actively respond to recommendations focused on improving campus safety.

 

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Assessment Results: FERPA Frustration

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Frustrated man with a computer

The transition from parenting  and supporting high school students to college students is likely felt most when it comes to the significant change in your ability (or inability!) to access your students’ grades. U.S. federal legislation governs higher education’s policies and procedures related to students’ educational records.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA” or the “Buckley Amendment”) of 1974 provides for the protection of student education records after a person enrolls at a post-secondary institution. Generally, FERPA provides that the University may not disclose records that personally identify a student without the student’s prior consent. This prohibition includes the disclosure of students’ academic, disciplinary, financial, and other records, and their social security numbers.

We know this can be frustrating for families who often ‘foot the education bill’ and it surfaces most commonly around access to student grades. Under FERPA, a student always has the right to view his or her own records and to give consent for Colorado State University faculty or staff to share his or her records with third parties, including parents or guardians. In the absence of student consent, the University may still release records to parents who have supplied proper verification that they claim their child as a dependent under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.

Colorado State University Registrar’s Office maintains on its website the forms for student consent and parents’ affidavits to verify dependent status and also provides updated guidance on FERPA compliance. Please be aware that requests must be specific and timely and there is no overarching form to allow students to sign away their privacy rights. If you require information outside of the Registrar’s Office, each academic department requires a specific form to be completed by the student before information is released. With the advent of technology, it is becoming more difficult to ensure requestors are who they say they are, so please be patient with departments as they work to verify your identity or your student’s desire to have information released.

Student education records may be shared among Colorado State University personnel who have a “legitimate educational interest” in that record. FERPA also permits student records to be shared within the University, including sharing among and between academic units and Student Affairs, without the student’s consent when there are health or safety concerns related to a student or for disciplinary matters.

FERPA takes precedence over the Colorado Open Records Act with respect to student education records. An exception to this general rule permits the disclosure of student directory information, as more fully set forth in the FERPA policy section of the Colorado State University General Catalog.

We encourage you to learn about FERPA and have conversations with your student about its limitations. How will you know if your student is doing poorly in a class? How will you know if your student has been in trouble with the University? How will you be sure your student’s University bill has been paid? Here are a few websites we’ve found to be helpful in navigating FERPA:

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Supporting Student Development & Growth

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Students on campus

By Jody Donovan, Interim Dean of Students

Last month I wrote about the concept of challenging and supporting students to encourage growth and development. This model emphasized the idea that growth comes from challenge, and therefore, parents and families can best help their students become mature, responsible, interdependent adults by allowing them to problem-solve and make decisions to meet and overcome obstacles. We hope families stay engaged by providing significant encouragement and emotional support for their students’ efforts.

This month, we’re focusing on a student development model that highlights seven “tasks” or life issues impacting students’ growth and development. Most parents, families, and community members think about higher education as what happens in the classroom, however, it is also important to focus on students’ significant out-of-class learning. During the first two years, students are often pre-occupied with developing competence in three areas: Interpersonally, Intellectually, and Physically.

Over the past few months, I’ve visited with a number of parents and families on the phone, over email, and in person about their first year students struggling with homesickness, loneliness, and worries about finding friends. The idea of interpersonal competence comes into play as students learn how to get along with roommates, form study groups, and find friends with similar values with whom to socialize and hang out. Learning how to get along with strangers, make friends, be assertive about one’s needs, and live in a small space (aka residence hall room) can be really challenging. Playing a supporting role by practicing conversations, providing suggestions and options, and serving as a listening ear with your students is critical for developing their interpersonal competency. Making friends is hard, it takes practice and intentionality. Joining clubs, participating in fitness classes at the Rec Center, eating meals with classmates, or exploring Fort Collins with floor-mates allows students to explore friend opportunities in low-risk ways. Sure they have to stick their necks out a bit, but developing friendships and relationships are skills necessary for life beyond college. It took 18+ years to develop their friends back home; it may take a few more months to find those future life-long friends.

The focus on intellectual competence is greatest during the first semester of the first year of college as successful high school graduates make the leap to college, learning to take notes in classes, reading textbooks for comprehension, taking exams that require critical thinking, and consistently performing academically at the collegiate level. Sometimes it takes a low grade on an assignment or exam to help redirect students’ focus back to academics. Students quickly learn that the smart students take advantage of tutoring resources, regularly utilize their professors’ office hours, and seek additional support through study groups and supplemental instruction. These strategies maximize students’ intellectual potential and lay the foundation for on-going academic success.

In addition to finding their sense of belonging and excelling academically, students must also begin taking responsibility for their physical and emotional health upon enrolling in higher education. They often learn their best lessons through trial and error when making decisions and setting boundaries with regard to sleep, exercise, eating, and seeking assistance for health concerns. Once again, learning how to become a self-advocate in this area is an important life skill that will serve them well in the workplace and at home.

I know it is difficult to watch your students struggle and hear the sadness in their voices; however, it is also a wonderful experience to see and hear their joy as they recount a story about a new-found friend or a newly discovered sense of life purpose. Students are also working on managing their emotions, moving away from the “high-highs and low-lows” to a more stable temperament, coping with disappointment and celebrating success. Maintaining a positive attitude and expressing your belief in their abilities are just a few of the ways you can support your students (they would also add a request for on-going care packages!!).

Next month I’ll share more information about additional areas for students’ growth and development, highlighting your roles as parents and family members. Just because they spend the majority of their time away from your home doesn’t mean your roles are diminished. If anything, you play an even more significant role in your students’ success!

If you are concerned about your student, please contact us at (970) 491-5312 or by email: kacee.collard@colostate.edu or jody.donovan@colostate.edu.

Thank you so much for sharing your students with us. We take your trust very seriously and are partners in supporting student success.

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Call-A-Ram is Calling You

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Call-A-Ram StudentsCall-A-Ram students are gearing up to talk to you! October 25 – November 7, this student-run organization will be calling you, our students’ parents and families. The Call-A-Ram students provide great insight into CSU from a student perspective and can help you find resources for many of the issues your student may be facing. They are also calling to fundraise for the Parents Fund. The Parents Fund gives parents and families the opportunity to enrich the lives of all undergraduate students by funding university-wide programs to support leadership, diversity, service and learning. The Vice President for Student Affairs determines where the need is greatest for use of Parents Fund gifts in cooperation with the Parents Fund Committee. This fund has contributed to everything from the annual Hunger Banquet, which exposes students to poverty issues, to the President’s Leadership Program, which teaches students leadership skills to help them engage in social change. In addition, Parent & Family Programs is funded primarily through the Parents Fund: all of the publications, the RAMFAM Association, Family Weekend and other parent and family events, services, programs, and staffing (Kacee and Jody). When these students call, give them a chance to help you connect to CSU. We know families of college students have many expenses, but this is an opportunity to enhance your student’s education outside of the classroom. This fund is sustained on small donations from many families and we appreciate any support you can provide.
 

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Fall Into SLiCE!

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Canstruction for Cans Around the OvalBy Stephanie Ashley, Graduate Marketing Coordinator, SLiCE

With fall in full swing, the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office has several upcoming opportunities for students to get involved in the CSU and Fort Collins communities. Cans Around the Oval is the largest one-day food drive in northern Colorado and is set to take place on Wednesday, October 20 when CSU students and members of the Fort Collins community convene on the CSU Oval to line it with canned goods collected in the preceding weeks.

As parents and family members of current students, you can get involved in this great Ram tradition. During Homecoming & Family Weekend, stop by the SLiCE office in the Lory Student Center to donate non-perishable food items or monetary donations. Help fight hunger and show the community that green and gold are colors of compassion!

In addition to Cans Around the Oval, the SLiCE office is currently accepting applications for Alternative Breaks. SLiCE offers this program for students to be immersed into different cultures, environments and socioeconomic communities across the world during winter, summer, and spring breaks. In one week, students travel and volunteer in another city, state, or country and embark on a journey that will challenge and motivate them on a variety of social causes.

Every spring, approximately 150 CSU students ranging in age, major, upbringing, background, and interest, participate in an Alternative Break experience. Many describe their Alternative Break experience as life-changing. Any students interested can stop by the SLiCE office or visit www.slice.colostate.edu for more information or applications.
 

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Congratulations, Families with Graduates!

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Grad Pack photoBy Donna Reiser, Director of Membership & Marketing and Life Member, Alumni Association

If you have a student graduating in December... Congratulations! You deserve kudos for supporting your graduate over the years, and we thank you for allowing us to be a part of this journey. As your graduate makes the transition from student to alumnus, we encourage you to check into the services available through the Alumni Association and want to be sure you know about the Alumni Association Grad Packs!

Grad Pack Options:

Annual Grad Pack (Bachelor’s) - $35 ($47 value)
Annual Grad Pack (Master’s or Doctorate) - $52 ($66 value)

  • Alumni Association Annual Membership
  • Cap, gown, and tassel rental
  • Alumni license plate frame
  • 10 percent off diploma frames

Colorado Annual Grad Pack (Bachelor’s) - $125 ($147 value)
Colorado Annual Grad Pack (Master’s or Doctorate) - $140 ($166 value)

  • All items listed in Annual Grad Pack PLUS
  • Colorado State University license plate certificate

Life Member Grad Pack - $750 ($1,075 value)

  • All items listed in Annual Grad Pack PLUS
  • Life Membership in lieu of Annual Membership

The Alumni Association also offers access to short-term major medical insurance, pet insurance, networking opportunities, career assistance, and more. Visit our website for details.

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