Kansas University Provost David Shulenburger unveiled several proposals Wednesday for increasing tuition, including one that would more than double tuition for most classes taken by Kansas residents.
Shulenburger kicked off what he said he hoped would be a universitywide discussion of tuition rates by speaking to about 75 students and faculty members in the School of Architecture. He said he planned similar meetings with other departments and university groups in upcoming weeks.
He presented three "scenarios" that he said would help KU's tuition be more in line with the "peer institutions" KU often compares itself with the University of Colorado, University of Iowa, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Oklahoma and University of Oregon.
Average tuition and fees for a KU student are $2,884 per year for residents, compared to an average of $3,338 at the other schools. Shulenburger also said KU's budget was $50 million less than the average of the peer schools.
"We need to do something with tuition," he said. "It's clear we've fallen behind."
And with a bleak state financial picture, he said relying more on state funding seemed unlikely. Kansas State University also is considering significant tuition increases.
"We'd love to get the answer that the state is going to increase our funding," Shulenburger said. "The question is are we prepared to engage in some self-help, and how much are we willing to engage in self-help."
Shulenburger presented three possible options to increase funding.
Increasing tuition enough for KU to match the budgets of its peer institutions would require a $96 per-credit-hour increase 123 percent increase over what in-state students now pay. Undergraduate Kansas residents currently pay $77.75 per credit hour for most courses. Nonresident tuition for most courses is $308.65 per credit hour.
Other proposals he discussed Wednesday were increases of $76 and $48 per credit hour.
Shulenburger said the tuition increases could be phased in over time, with the full increase in effect by fall 2006.
Other options being weighed include increasing tuition more in schools or departments with higher operating costs, increasing tuition more for upper-division courses or charging special technology fees in some areas.
"There are an infinite number of possibilities," Shulenburger said.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway ultimately will decide what proposal to present to the Board of Regents, who will decide on tuition increases in April. The changes would go into effect for the fall 2002 semester.
Some of the areas targeted for increased funding include computers and laboratories, libraries and better pay for employees.
Shulenburger said financial aid also would have to increase, noting that the KU Endowment Association's current campaign includes $73 million for need-based assistance.
"That's the risk if you raise the fees for freshmen, you lose a lot of students," he said. "What I worry about is fewer people will go into higher education because those costs are going up."
Several students who attended the meeting gave tentative approval to increased tuition.
"I think a tuition increase would be beneficial to everybody," said Andrew Miller, a freshman. "It's a concern, but I'm sure I'll reap the benefits later on. I'm willing to pay the extra money if I'm going to get an education that improves at the same rate."
Katie Nichols, a senior, said she supported an increase, especially if it included more money for faculty members.
"It's not a shock," she said. "I always thought this was a fair price compared to other schools. I always wondered how I could attend this university at this cost."