Topeka — Kansas students won't be priced out of higher education despite looming tuition increases, officials from the state's two largest universities told school superintendents Wednesday.
"We want to give you assurance your students can absolutely continue to afford to attend our schools," said David Shulenburger, Kansas University provost.
Shulenburger and James Coffman, provost at Kansas State University, told about 60 members of the state's Superintendents Council that the proposed increases Â which could as much as double tuition in the next five years Â are necessary to provide quality education and remain competitive.
"It's a topic we'd rather not be talking about, but we don't have much choice," Shulenburger said.
The provosts assured superintendents that an additional 20 percent of any tuition increase would be used for need-based financial aid. Separate studies by financial aid offices at each school determined the 20 percent number, they said.
The appearance at the regular meeting of the Superintendents Council was part of an information campaign by both schools that includes meetings with campus and community groups.
Although all six state universities are devising five-year tuition plans, KU and KSU likely will have the largest increases.
"We'll be about the same for the two schools," Shulenburger said, "and that will be somewhat more than the other schools."
Proposals will be submitted to the Kansas Board of Regents in April for a decision to be made in May. A committee at KU made of students, faculty and staff is working with administrators on KU's proposal.
Several superintendents said they supported the tuition increases.
"I know the picture is much like it is for K-12 education," Baldwin Supt. Jim White said. "We have funding needs, and to meet the budgets we have to cut programs or increase revenue flow. And this is one way they can increase revenue flow."
He said he thought some students may be "disgruntled" about paying more.
"I don't think kids will be left out" of higher education, he said.
Tom Ostrander, superintendent in Clearwater, which is south of Wichita, called the tuition increases "inevitable."
"The tendency might be a greater percentage of kids opting for the less-expensive route of community colleges," he said. "We're going to have to do more to direct kids to scholarships and loans."