Citing the state’s budget problems, lawmakers are discussing changes that could crunch the personal budgets of college students. In a reversal of his prior stance, Governor Bill Ritter says a bill is in the works that would give public colleges and universities more autonomy in hiking tuition, reports The Denver Post.

Currently, the state limits tuition hikes from five to nine percent, depending on the school, but Ritter says schools would likely struggle without more flexibility to increase tuition.

“Nobody anticipated the depth or protracted length of the downturn,” he adds.

Lawmakers have slashed higher-education spending over the past three budget years, using $623 million in federal stimulus funds to make up for the loss. But the money ran out in the 2011-12 fiscal year. The legislature will keep tuition hikes in check for the next fiscal year despite efforts to find models for “tuition flexibility.”

Ritter clarifies that “tuition flexibility is not tuition autonomy,” (via The Rocky Mountain Collegian). He also believes higher education will be “a really important issue” for whoever succeeds him as governor early next year, saying, “I’m still going to work on it” after leaving office (via Education News Colorado).