Emporia The Kansas Board of Regents today adopted a controversial report prepared by a special task force on tuition policy and reviewed a proposal to raise state university tuition rates an average of 6 percent for the 1991-92 academic year.
Meeting at Emporia State University, regents debated several elements of the task force report, which among other things recommended a 100 percent tuition waiver for graduate students who teach and a special tuition program for gifted out-of-state students.
The seven-member task force, which included Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig, was created in June 1989 by the regents to develop a plan to identify and address long-term, tuition-related issues for institutions in the state system.
BY ADOPTING the report, regents made official their intention to ask the 1991 Legislature for authority to waive all tuition for GTAs. Presently, assistants get a 75 percent tuition waiver. An effort is being made this session to raise the waiver to 80 percent.
One recommendation contained in the report has drawn criticism from legislators. The House is on record as opposing a plan to allow academically gifted out-of-state students to pay the lower in-state tuition rates charged Kansas residents.
Regent Robert Creighton of Atwood, who was task force chairman, said the idea was to attract excellent students to state universities who might stay in Kansas after graduation. The plan needs legislative approval and wouldn't apply to current students.
Board members deliberated at length on a recommendation that the board refrain from authorizing special academic fees for specific restricted uses, such as an equipment fee for engineering. Exceptions to the policy are stringent, Creighton said.
"WE WANTED to provide a vehicle (for the special fees), but not provide a vehicle that can be used universally across the campuses," Creighton said. "Personally, I'm not sure any of the departments can meet these requirements."
Officials at Wichita State University, Kansas State University and KU want to impose a $15 a credit hour fee for engineering students. The fee would generate $400,000 a year for KU's School of Engineering for maintenance of laboratory equipment.
Regent Shirley Palmer of Fort Scott endorsed the report but wasn't pleased that the proposed engineering fee wouldn't be considered until December, and couldn't be implemented until fall semester 1991. She wanted it to begin in the 1991 spring semester.
Meanwhile, regents today received proposals by its regular tuition and fees committee to raise tuition in the 1991-92 school year by 3 percent for residents and 10 percent for non-residents. Increases this fall will be 6 percent for in-state students and 10 percent for out-of-state students.
ASSUMING enrollment doesn't change, the recommended rates would generate $6.3 million in new revenue.
B. Jake White, student body president at KU, told regents the board's student advisory panel opposed the tuition hike. He said tuition should be frozen at this fall's rates because the final year of the Margin of Excellence won't be approved by the Legislature.
Students supported accelerated tuition increases in the past to help fund the Margin, a program to raise support for faculty salaries and mission-related enhancements. Students feel cheated because they will pay more but won't get more, White said.
Regent Charles Hostetler of Manhattan asked the board how the money-strapped regents system could improve its financial condition with a 3 percent in-state tuition increase that doesn't cover half of this year's projected rate of inflation. A 6 percent hike would be appropriate, he said.
STANLEY KOPLIK, regents executive director, said the proposed increase for Kansas residents was modest and perhaps too low. However, he said the proposal was a compromise with students who believe they had a "gentleman's agreement" with regents on the Margin.
If regents adopt the proposed tuition increases at their meeting next month, resident undergraduate tuition at KU for the 1991-92 school year would increase to $631 a semester, or $18 above the rate for this coming fall. Non-residents would pay $2,393, or an additional $218.
Graduate students also would face a 3 and 10 percent increase. Residents would pay $795 a semester, which would be $23 above this fall's rate. And non-residents would be pay $2,574, a $234 increase over the amount they must pay for the fall semester.
Koplik told regents he wasn't surprised that applications to regents schools dropped this year by 20 to 32 percent. A $15 application fee made students more selective and the number of Kansas high school graduates has fallen.
He said he didn't believe the significant drop in student applications to regents schools, which amounted to 22 percent among freshman and transfer students filing applications with KU, would change actual enrollment patterns this fall.