Resident undergraduates at Kansas University will pay 14.3 percent more in tuition this fall under a proposal presented Thursday to the Kansas Board of Regents.
The increase would be the last installment of a five-year plan that has more than doubled tuition at KU.
The increases were put in motion to bring in money for salaries, new faculty positions, need-based tuition grants, technology updates and other campus upgrades.
Regents approved the earlier phases of the five-year plan and are expected to also approve the latest requested increase.
KU Provost David Shulenburger defended the increases as necessary to improve the school.
"Students feel like they are getting more for their money," Shulenburger told the regents, who will vote on the proposal next month.
On campus, students had mixed reactions.
Mona Akhlaghi, a KU senior who transferred from Johnson County Community College, said that from food to books to tuition, the costs of attending KU were high.
"It's not that bad, but it is high for Kansas," she said.
Senior Rick Winfrey said he understood tuition increases were needed for faculty and campus upgrades, but they still were hard to handle.
"I pay about $1,000 more per semester than I did when I first came here," he said.
For him that means fewer classes per semester because he needs to take the time to work to pay for school, he said.
"What can I do?" he said. "I feel really powerless to change what the tuition rates are."
The days of annual double-digit increases in tuition could be over if the regents accept a proposal from KU allowing the school, starting in fall 2007, to provide a guaranteed base tuition plan.
Under the plan, incoming freshmen who complete their degrees in four years would maintain the same tuition rate the entire four years.
"We think it is fair to families because it gives them predictability," Shulenburger said.
Sophomore Brittney Chandler said she liked the sound of a guaranteed tuition plan.
"That would be nice to know and then start saving," she said.
Regent Chairwoman Donna Shank of Liberal said the regents would need time to consider such a proposal.
"On the surface, it sounds good," she said.
Dollars and cents
For next fall, however, KU's proposed tuition increase means a resident undergraduate taking 15 credit hours would pay $2,756.25 in tuition, or $344.25 more than the current $2,412.
Tuition would also increase 12.2 percent for resident graduate students, 9.1 percent for nonresident undergraduates and 8.5 percent for nonresident graduate students.
At KU's School of Medicine, the proposed increase would be 12.1 percent for resident graduate students and 8.5 percent for nonresident graduate students.
KU also proposes increasing student fees. That includes a $20 increase in the women's and nonrevenue intercollegiate sports fee, $1.50 increase in the Student Senate activity fee and a new $6 fee for a program that would provide a safe ride for any KU student to their residence in Lawrence.
KU Medical Center has proposed a $14 annual fee for all students, a $5 annual fee for all medical residents and $2,500 one-time fee for tablet computers.
Compared with other regents universities, KU's proposal had the highest percentage increase. For a resident undergraduate, Kansas State proposed a 13.5 percent increase; Wichita State, 7 percent; Emporia State, 8.5 percent; Pittsburg State, 6.5 percent, and Fort Hays State, 5 percent.
Despite the increases over the years, Shulenburger said KU remained a good deal compared with peer institutions.
He noted that minority enrollment has increased from 9.7 percent in 2001 to 12.3 percent last fall. And the retention of students after one year has climbed to 82 percent for all students and 79 percent for minority students.
"We have not priced students out at all at KU," he said.