Wichita The state budget woes have forced Wichita State University President Don Beggs to consider seeking a 9 percent increase in tuition for the next school year.
Last fall, Beggs said he expected the university to have to raise tuition about 3 percent. That was before it became known that the state faces a $700 million budget shortfall, which Beggs said could force Wichita State to cut its budget 6.4 percent, or $4.2 million.
"We have to either cut that much or we have to increase our revenue," he said. "What's realistic, in this, is to do both."
If tuition is increased 9 percent for fall, the cost of a credit hour for an in-state student would rise about $6.50 Â to about $78 a credit hour. With fees, the total cost per credit hour is about $100.
Freshman Bridget Elpers said she would take a tuition increase in stride. A full-time student, she grew up in Wichita and lives with her parents.
"I'd rather get charged $6 or $7 than not be able to take a class" that may be canceled because of budget cuts, she said. "It's understandable."
Her friend, Lori Walter, a sophomore in graphic design, said Wichita State was cheaper than the private colleges she previously attended.
Because the tuition increase will only partially offset funding shortfalls, Wichita State and other universities also are looking at budget cuts.
Among the options: not filling vacated positions, freezing salaries, reduced spending on equipment, or suspending a extra-fee lecture series. Beggs said he wants to affect classrooms as little as possible.
The state's colleges also face added expenses that won't be covered by state dollars, said Marvin Burris, vice president for finance and administration at the state Board of Regents.
For example, a previously approved 3 percent salary increase for state employees will not be fully paid by the state, Burris said, at a cost of about $5 million. Health insurance costs are also increasing, with an estimated cost of about $8.5 million.