Archive for Friday, June 23, 2006

Regent takes tuition stand

KU increase OK’d, but lone dissenter says it’s too much, too fast

June 23, 2006


Tuition and fees to Kansas University will climb this fall to $6,152 - more than double the rate five years ago.

Though the final increase in KU's five-year tuition plan shouldn't be a surprise, it caused enough heartburn for the outgoing chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents to vote to reject the increase Thursday.

Regent Donna Shank, of Liberal, was the lone dissenter to tuition increase proposals at KU and Kansas State University, which were ultimately approved by the other Regents.

"I just felt like that was too much too fast for families and students to bear," Shank said of the continuous increases at the schools.

But administrators at both institutions defended their actions, saying the increases were necessary and that students have supported them.

"They want access to excellence," said K-State President John Wefald. "They don't want access to mediocrity."

Resident undergraduate tuition at KU next year will be $5,512.50 - a 14.3 percent increase from 2005-06. K-State students will pay $5,175, a 13.5 percent increase.

Fees will cost students an added $640 at KU and $604 at K-State.

KU also raised differential tuition by 4 percent in each of its schools that charge the tuition, which is paid by students in a particular school or department and spent in the same school.

Is it too much?

"I think people have to make their own judgments," KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said, noting that the majority of Regents approved the increases. "The fact of the matter is our tuition remains low."

In advance of Thursday's meeting, the Regents produced a report showing KU's tuition in 2005-06 was below that of several surrounding institutions, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Iowa.

The increase approved Thursday likely will be the highest percentage increase for students for a while. The five-year plan was an aggressive move to raise funds for faculty positions, technology, salary increases, financial aid and other enhancements.

But KU officials now are working on a guaranteed tuition plan. For students it would mean a predictable tuition rate over the first four years of school. The rate would be based on KU's estimated tuition rates averaged for the four years. So KU would still see increased revenue, but not as dramatic as the past few years.

"It's too bad it's gone up as much as it has recently," KU senior Ryan Kanost said. "But, overall, I think it's a good value."

Aimee Richardson, a KU law student, said she doesn't appreciate the increases. She said scholarships helped pay for her undergraduate work at KU, but she knows that it can be difficult to go to KU without them. Richardson said she thinks the university could be more efficient by spending less on things like a new logo or by paying administrators less.

"There's no reason they should be making what they do," she said. "I don't see a lot of direct impact that they have on my education."


johngalt 11 years, 8 months ago

I thought TABOR caused tuition increases.

Obviously not.

tnfats 11 years, 8 months ago

It's great that the only dissenting opinion about the tuition increase is someone who didn't even pay her own tuition. Students should be glad; KU and K-State's in-state tuition is a bargain compared to other state schools and with the demand for things that cost money like health services, technology, and scholarships balanced with less money earmarked for education by the guv'mint, it isn't gonna get any cheaper.

Oh, and...Psst, Aimee those administrators that you think don't have a "direct impact" actually do. They hired the law school staff, set its curriculum, keep the heat/air/ electricty/water/internet on in Green Hall, co-ordinate efforts to clean up the wads of Kansans left behind, raise money to offer those scholarships - you know, they kind of make the whole university run. As for their salaries - it's the market; if they didn't make that at KU, they would make it (and probably more) elsewhere.

compmd 11 years, 8 months ago

when is hemenway going to learn that saying 'it costs more at other places' isn't a defense to doubling tuition over 5 years.

why did a majority of students support the increase? probably because a majority of students don't pay their tuition, either their parents pay it, or they get student loans that they will pay off for a couple years after graduation.

jackie 11 years, 8 months ago

Typical Kansas view. Residents want everything to be first rate, and they want it for free.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 8 months ago

Another option for a majority of students supporting the increase: perhaps they are sophisticated consumers who realize the product they are purchasing can be improved by substantial investment, and that the pay-off will be well worth the investment.

I think it would be an interesting experiment for the Legislature to attempt a "post-secondary education holiday" for the State: a two- to three-year period in which it declines to fund the Regents system. At the end of the period, it evaluates the results of this experiment, the likely consequences, and then decides whether, how, and how much to reinstate funding. Or, whether to "spin off" the Regents and allow them to privatize and thus implement employee pay according to market demand and charge for services according to what the market will bear.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 8 months ago

You mean the State actually funds the Regents and University of Kansas?????? HA!

It has dropped to virtually less than 30% of it's operating budget.

KU runs because of endowment and tutition figures. It certainly cannot rely on the State.

While I have to absolute merit in saying so, I wish KU would privatize. We're practically a private university now, only we have to deal with such scrutiny by the KS Legislators who don't agree with our faculty/administration politically.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 8 months ago

And this talk about approval from the majority of students.

The increased tuition we had no input on.

The differential tuition and fees we did have a vote on. Within the KU School of Education, we knew the increased in funding was to benefit the KU Edwards Campus SOE programs, computer labs, scholarships, research and other salaries for guest professors etc. As Wilbur stated correctly, it was a matter of investing into a sound program that we knew would benefit us, or later crops of students. The student fees increased may have covered transportation, new multicultural center, recreation etc. I don't remember what was on this year's ballot for fee increase.

The overall tuition increase comes as no surprise though, as I believe, this is the final year increase of a 5-year plan. I think they were supposed to lock rates of students that started a particular school year, so they did not feel such a burden of tuition increases over the 4 years of their studies (pending they even actually graduated in a 4-year window).

TULSA 11 years, 8 months ago

the only dissenting opinion? really? even the other student quoted was tepid in his support of the increases.

". . .it's great that the only dissenting opinion about the tuition increase. . . " "Aimee those administrators that you think don't have a "direct impact" actually do."

Right you are-obviously those administrators do have impact: they keep raising tuition rates.

additionally, the story said scholarships helped pay tuition, NOT that she got a free ride. might want to read a little more carefully next time.

aimee 11 years, 8 months ago

"It's great that the only dissenting opinion about the tuition increase is someone who didn't even pay her own tuition."

Yes, it's true that I'm lucky enough to have gotten scholarships to pay for the majority (NOT all) of my undergraduate education, but the money that I did receive was not simply a handout. I had to work incredibly hard to keep my grades up, hold leadership positions in multiple campus organizations, do volunteer work, and also hold down a job to buy things like food.

Additionally, considering that I have been a Lawrence resident for more than 20 years and a Kansas taxpayer since I was in high school, I'm more than entitled to an opinion about the way that MY tax dollars are being spent, and how the economic dynamics of MY hometown are being affected by fluctuating tuition prices that leave many local kids unable to afford KU. However, you should be relieved to know that scholarships in law school are hard to come by, so my entire education is now being funded by loans (for which the interest rates will be going up in a week) and my employment earnings.

Oh, and psst, tnfats, KU administrators don't set my law school curriculum. The American Bar Association sets the requirements for mandatory law school courses, and individual professors set their own course outlines. And FYI, the administrators in the law school (for example, Interim Dean Davis and incoming Dean Agrawal) also teach at least a few courses in addition to their administrative duties. Those administrators DO have a direct impact on my education, so they are a different story...

The utilities in Green are kept running by Facilities & Operations staff, the building is kept clean and litter-free by janitors, and the technology office at the law school keeps our internet running, and none of them are what I consider to be in the realm of overpaid administrators. To the contrary, those employees are vital to the daily operations of KU, and aren't paid nearly enough for what they do.

And those scholarships I earned that seem to bother you so much, well, those came from private organizations that are completely unrelated to KU and the administration, and from funds established and managed by KU professors and alums. Also, KU Endowment, through which many scholarships are managed, is an independent non-profit group, so their fundraising folks (both the higher-ups and the student callers) are not paid for by tuition dollars.

I don't care if those inflated administrative salaries are "the market" for that kind of work. If they can get the same pay at another university, that's great for them. At least then I won't be paying for it. But just the fact that something is the status quo does not make it justifiable or acceptable.

Bottom line: you don't have to like someone else's opinion, but you shouldn't assume that someone voicing an opinion contrary to your own is uninformed, or, as you implied in your posting, lazy.

jackie 11 years, 8 months ago

Settle down and enjoy your summer break, Aimee

penguin 11 years, 8 months ago

The student support that the administration points to is usually limited to the student membership of the tuition advisory committee. This student membership is a grand total of 2 students.

Also the differential tuition was never in the original 5 year plan.

However, it is not only the university folks who want to increase tuition, some of the Regents are for it too. One of the members questioned Fort Hays State University's President on their tuition increase with the following question: Do you think that the tuition at FHSU is too low? FHSU has only increased their tuition at about 5% a year for the past 5 years.

Also I just have to laugh that they still refer to this effort to skyrocket tuition as a 5 year plan. Because when I think 5 year plans and hyper inflation...I think of the Soviet Union.

Jayhawk226 11 years, 8 months ago

The differential tuition is determined by the individual schools at KU. We were fully notified upfront at the School of Education.

And it was well-documented that this was a 5-year tutition increase phase.

As students, we have known this was the reality for quite some time.

Regardless, it was much more affordable to attend school here at KU then an Illinois school, and gain a rather quality education.

fletch 11 years, 8 months ago

penguin: Spoken like the Fort Hayes State University Student Body President. - luv your cousin. (really, the TAC, FHSU, Soviet Union, and penguin references gave it away)

Yeah, anytime they talk about student support for the 5 year plan I laugh. When it came up to begin with, Student Senate voted against it twice. The Kansan refused to endorse it on any grounds. All of the students on the advisory committee voted against it. The administration thought this looked bad, so they finally convinved one students on the board to change his vote so it didn't look so bad. That same student magically won a Chancellor's Award for service to the University the next year. Go figure. This whole deal was a boondoggle I'd probably actually be happier with it if just once the KU administration publicly admitted students didn't like this plan. On the bright side, all of the built up resentment from this helped defeat their CLAS differential tuition plan.

SpeedyTex32 11 years, 8 months ago

The problem is that while tuition has been going up dramatically at every school for various reasons, it seems that no one is reporting the ugly differential tuition raises that are being conducted at KU. The Business School is probably the biggest culprit following the expertise of Provost Schulenburger. However, every school from education to architecture is now implementing differential tuition and even Liberal Arts is talking about a $30 surcharge, which would just about hit every student at KU for every class. The university administrators claim to have student support, however, none of these tuition increases were ever voted upon by the student body (at least not in business) and were advocated to the Regents by a select few student government officers who were graduating and never had to pay the tuition increase. Business has been the biggest culprit and far outdistances the increases at KSU.

As an example, the following comparison for the last 5 years is factual.

KU 2001-2 Business School (30 hours) Tuition 15 Hours - Rate $77.75 per hour = $1166.25 per semester Fees - = $294 per semester Semester Tuition and Fees = $1460.25 per semester Year Tuition Cost = $2920.50 per year

KU 2006-7 Approved Business School Tuition (30 hours) Tuition 15 Hours - Rate 183.75 per hour = $2756.25 per semester Fees - = $322 per semester Diff Bus. Tuition Rate $81.10 per Hour = $1216.50 per semester Semester Tuition and Fees = $4294.75 per semester Year Tuition Costs = $8561.50 per year

KSU 2006-7 Proposed Business School (30 hours) Tuition 15 Hours = $172.52 per hour = $2587.80 per semester Fees - = $282.00 per semester Business Tech Fee $15 per hour = $225.00 per semester Semester Tuition and Fees = $3094.80 per semester Year Tuition Costs = $6189.60 per year

I believe that increase is 192% for business students at KU over the past 5 years. The national average for tuition increases have been 46% for the same period. On top of the Business differential tuition, they tack another $66 business differential tuition for graduate business students. Yes, KU has gone from being the best bargain in business education in the Big 12 to only trailing Texas-Austin for tuition and fees.

penguin 11 years, 8 months ago

See Jayhawk226 that is why people here in Kansas cannot stomach the tuition increase "Regardless, it was much more affordable to attend school here at KU then an Illinois school, and gain a rather quality education."

This was the basis for the push for tuition increases 5 years ago and the bs rationale they tried to feed to us when I was on Student Senate. Hey guess what 5 years later and everyone else increased their tuition too.

So KU is still cheaper by comparison to Illinois schools, but the avg income is probably higher in that state as well.

My point on the differential tuition is that it was not included in the original 5 year plan (this was also a point made by Regent Shank). Also eventhough the school has power over setting it the BOR still had to approve it yesterday.

Overall though I guess the lies just get to me. After looking through the fee proposals for KU and their tuition proposals two glaring errors were there. The vast student support for tuition increases does not exist. I think the better way to put it would be that students don't like it but many are just not willing to speak ill of it.

Also the fee increases that went through were fine and dandy, but just one line on the campus transportation fee irked me. Apparently it hasnt been touched since 1999. Well not 100% true, it was increased in 2003 to fund Saferide enhancement (when the fees were still coupled).

Oh well could be worse, Pittsburg State does their fees on a per credit hour basis and they raised their student fees by 21 per credit hours this year. Just a funny side note.

SpeedyTex32 11 years, 8 months ago

Differential tuition has to continue rising in order to pay for salary increases on faculty lines that are not paid for directly by the state. That 4% increase on differential will be asked for forever!!!! They don't include that in the documentation or press releases concerning differential tuition. Students will probably get to float a bond issue next for constructing a new building.

middleoftheroad 11 years, 8 months ago

KU is still ranked a Best Buy by Fiske which is 14 public universities accross the country who offer the best value for a low cost...the best bang for your buck, if you will. Even though the jump has been substantial, it was time to make up for the lack of doing so in years past. It was unfortunate but all of us with KU degrees will have a more respectable degree in the future as a result.

As an alum, I'm glad to see KU finally to the point where they can provide the students with what they need such as higher quality faculty and more resources for students but still aren't at a budget which leaves much room for further improvement.

As a side note, I started in 1999 and graduated in 2003 which meant I was there for almost the entire "5 year plan" so I had to pay as well (as an out-of-stater with little parental help).

What has set KU apart in the past is the community's ability to see the big picture and I would encourage the dissenters to do so. We are a well-educated group who should be able to see both sides of an argument. I sure wasn't happy when tuition was rising but most times bad will follow good.

For those worried about salaries, KU is WAY BELOW market value for both staff and faculty salaries. Without those people, the university could not operate as there are people who need to do "what they do" (as Aimee put it) to run a university. They deserve the same respect as faculty as they are the ones advising students, awarding financial aid money, providing students with tutoring, etc.

We have the best instiution in the area which means any comparison is a moot point. We could have lower tuition like the other regents schools but that would mean the education value would then be equal and I am willing to bet there isn't a single KU affiliate that would welcome that change!!!

middleoftheroad 11 years, 8 months ago

"we'll see the beginning of a new x-year increase plan year."

The chancellor has publicly stated that he doesn't see substantial tuition increases in the future...hence his support of fixed tuition.

penguin 11 years, 8 months ago

More than likely the plan for the next 5 year plan is based on the use of tuition contracts. This seems to be the next step, but again still will take BOR approval. The idea was presented at the May meeting, but no action has been taken on it.

fletch 11 years, 8 months ago

The dark side of tuition contracts being that tution can pretty much be raised at any rate they want year to year because once you've got your rate locked in,y ou've got no incentive to fight raises for incomming classes. Plus, most people are just too lazy to do the math and see whether the actual rate raises are inflation rate increases, or larger tuition hikes.

Plus, an estimated 47% of students drop out of four year universities before their junior year. Since fixed rate tuition is an average of 4 years' rates, the freshman and sophomore years you're paying higher than what you would have under a year by year plan. Your junior and senior years you pay less than what you woul have under a year by year. So those 47% of students that drop out by junior year ended up paying more and getting less. That's more profit for the system.

But to bring up that point would assume that whoever you're making the case to actually has a basic undertanding of high school math, which might be a stretch in Kansas.

Sigmund 11 years, 8 months ago

Welcome to Real Life Economics, 101. Hopefully, by the end of this course you will understand why private businesses do their best to keep their expenses down, and why publicly financed institutions have absolutely no incentive to do so. And yes, this will be on the final exam.

middleoftheroad 11 years, 8 months ago

KU's retention rate between the freshman and sophomore year is about 86% which means most students are returning. Students are most likely to transfer after their freshman year which means most students at KU are staying.

By dropping out, they're already getting much less than someone who doesn't drop out, so if anything, this is incentive for students to continue with and complete their degree in the 4 year time frame.

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