Topeka In the fall of 2007, incoming freshmen at Kansas University will pay a locked-in tuition rate that will remain at the same level for four years if the proposal is approved by the Kansas Board of Regents.
"What we are telling students and families is, 'We are going to give you some predictability,'" said Lindy Eakin, vice provost for administration and finance at KU.
KU plans to seek regents approval this fall of what is called "guaranteed base tuition." If the regents give it the green light, then all incoming freshmen in fall 2007 will be assigned a four-year tuition rate.
After five years of double-digit tuition increases, Eakin said the new program would give incoming students a better idea of what their total education will cost, and it tells them that the expectation is they finish their undergraduate work in four years.
"The presumption is that you are coming here for four years to graduate," he said.
But Eakin concedes the locked-in tuition concept is new and may be difficult to comprehend.
For instance, an incoming freshman in 2007 will be paying more in tuition than the freshman the previous year because the locked-in amount is an average of projected increases over the next four years.
KU projects future increases to be 5 percent annually. But if the increases aren't that large, will those with a locked-in rate be paying more than they should?
Eakin said that was unlikely, but he added the locked-in rate "is a hedge."
Students entering KU in fall 2007 can expect to see tuition increases of 5 percent per year unless exceptional inflation sets in and requires larger increases, according to a report on tuition by KU.
Based on 30 credit hours per year, this would increase tuition from $5,790 per year in the 2007-08 school year to $6,690 per year in the 2011-12 school year.
So instead of dealing with the increases on an annual basis, the guaranteed tuition level would be $6,240 per year for each of the four years. The grand totals are the same for each system - $24,960.
But the guaranteed plan is locked in, while the projected increases on an annual basis could be greater.
Eakin noted that the proposal was not a financial incentive.
School-specific differential tuition raises, campus fees and residence hall rates would not be guaranteed by the proposal.
Eakin said KU was getting positive reviews from the proposal because it allows students and parents to "do the math" on the cost of an education at KU while tuition at other schools is subject to annual increases that could be affected by state budget problems or the economy.