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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tuition cap draws mixed responses

August 11, 2007

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— The recent decision to lock-in tuition rates for four years for each new class of freshmen at Kansas University has received praise but also raised concerns.

KU Provost Richard Lariviere said at freshman orientation sessions this summer that parents applauded when told their children's tuition rate would be frozen for four years.

"There are rarely moments of spontaneous applause at student orientations, but this generates one," Lariviere told the Kansas Board of Regents at a recent meeting.

Under the tuition compact, first-time KU freshmen this fall will pay a fixed tuition rate for four years. Housing costs will be frozen in two-year increments, and course and campus fees are projected in four-year schedules.

Resident freshmen will pay $213 per credit hour. That is 15.9 percent more than the rate of $183.75, which is what students paid for the spring 2007 semester.

For full-time, resident freshmen, tuition will be $3,408 per semester this fall, an increase of $468. Add proposed fees of $377.75, and a freshman starting this fall will pay $3,785.75. KU calculates its compact costs based on a 16-hour per semester class load.

The two-year housing rate will be $6,320 per year for a typical two-person room with a standard meal plan.

KU officials said the four-year tuition plan gives students and parents predictability in how much they will have to pay. And it encourages students to complete their degrees in four years.

Parents and students may find the four-year, locked in tuition the antidote to a string of hefty tuition increases over the previous five years of 13.7 percent, 14.3 percent, 15.5 percent, 17.7 percent, 20.8 percent.

Hannah Love, KU student body president, said she supported the proposal, especially given the recent increases.

"I think it is a solution to help stabilize those numbers and curb those increases that we continue to see," said Love, a junior from Dodge City.

But Regent Janie Perkins said because the tuition compact emphasized that students complete their degrees in four years, KU should step up its counseling efforts to help retain first-year students. Approximately one in five freshmen at KU does not continue after the first year.

"Students who are not so successful, especially in the first year, what will you do for them?" Perkins asked.

Lariviere, however, said that the board needs to allow KU to increase its admission standards. He said some students simply aren't ready for KU and should work on their studies at another institution before applying at KU.

Kansas regents institutions require students under age 21 to meet one of three standards to gain college admission: a score of 21 or better on the ACT college exam, rank in the top third of their graduating class or have a 2.0 grade-point average on a pre-college curriculum.

Kansas was the last state in the nation to adopt such standards after years of opposition from legislators and others concerned about restricting access to higher education.

Regents recently approved the tuition compact, but members said they would watch how it develops to see if any changes are needed.

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