KU students now pay a record high proportion of their educational costs. State officials say the percentage covered by students will continue to climb as tuition increases.
Kansas University students are paying more than 40 percent of the cost of their college education for the first time in university history.
Rep. Barbara Ballard, a Lawrence Democrat and KU faculty member, said students were burdened by recent tuition increases that pushed the "fee-to-cost" ratio to a record level at KU.
However, she said, students are receiving good educational value for their higher education investment.
"When you're struggling, working many hours each week and with parents sacrificing that doesn't seem that important," she said.
In the past 10 years, the percentage of education cost paid by KU students has climbed from 27.4 percent to 40.3 percent.
The average for the six Board of Regents universities has grown at a slower rate. That percentage went from 24.5 percent to 33.5 percent.
Although tuition increases occurred at all regents' universities, only KU has a fee-to-cost ratio above 31.9 percent. The low: 24 percent at Fort Hays State.
KU's ratio is highest because the university attracts the most out-of-state students who pay a higher tuition rate, said Marvin Burris, regents' associate budget director.
KU, Kansas State and Wichita State resident students pay an average of 24.5 percent of the cost of their education. Non-resident students at these schools pay 68.4 percent.
Rep. Forrest Swall, D-Lawrence, said it would be reasonable if the fee-to-cost ratio for KU's resident students stayed at 25 percent.
"If it gets beyond that it's clear that the state is shirking its responsibility for higher education," Swall said.
"If we keep moving with tuition increases we will ... create a dual education system -- a system for the wealthy and no system for the poor."
A policy adopted in 1990 by the Board of Regents stipulating the fee-to-cost" ratio at KU stay between 25 percent to 35 percent is out of date.
"You can see we've nudged out of that range," Burris said.
Benchmarks for KU and other regents' universities were ignored as legislators and regents mandated large tuition increases during the past several years.
"If it gets higher, higher, higher you will price people out of attending universities," Ballard said. "There should be a ceiling."
Steve Jordan, regents' executive director, said tuition rates at state universities remain a bargain.
"These tuition rates are very moderate compared to rates nationally," he said.
Future tuition hikes should be accompanied by increases in state financial aid programs to guarantee student access, he said.