Valley Falls The fledglingplan, agreed upon only in philosophy, could call for a partnership with the Kansas Legislature.
The Kansas Board of Regents agreed in principle on Thursday to consider controls on tuition, including the possibility of a tuition cap in the future.
The philosophical agreement was not formally approved, and no vote was taken.
Recent studies have demonstrated that Kansans, and American students in general, are in danger of being denied college opportunities, prompting the discussion at the board's annual retreat.
"People are getting priced out of being able to go to a regents institution," regent Tom Hammond said. "Really the only thing we have control over is tuition."
One recent study reported that by the year 2015, if tuition continues to increase at the current rate, about 7 million students nationally (half of those anticipated to enroll) may be denied access to college. The findings were echoed in the regents Vision 2020 plan.
At Kansas University, resident students currently pay about $2,000 for an average academic year (two 15-hour semesters). Non-residents pay about $8,200 per academic year.
Tuition is typically adjusted annually. For the current school year, tuition was raised 4 percent. The overall budget authorized by the regents for fiscal year 1999 calls for a 2.8 percent increase in tuition for the six regents institutions -- KU, Kansas State, Wichita State, Fort Hays State, Emporia State and Pittsburg State.
Over the past two decades, the average increase in tuition for a resident student has been about 7 percent. Some recent years saw the posting of double-digit increases in tuition.
At the same time, the share of the state's general fund going to regents universities has declined. Between 1985 and 1995, the share dropped from 18.4 percent to 13.2 percent. That has added up to leaner times.
Regents chair Bob Talkington said he has often heard complaints about tuition directly from Kansas families.
"They're having a hard time putting their children through school," Talkington said. "We really need to do something as far as tuition is concerned."
Board members and university officials stressed that hard figures could not be pinpointed before careful review of tuition costs in Kansas and those in other states. The regents considered the possibility of a partnership with the Legislature, to ensure that a tuition cap would not cut deeper into education funding in general.
"We need to make sure the policy would not be diminishing the resources of the system," KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said.
The plan, which could be instated as a guideline or a hard limit, could be linked to the inflation rate, the Consumer-Price Index, currently between 2.5 and 2.8 percent annually, or the fee-to-cost ratio (the amount students pay vs. the total cost of their education).