Topeka — State higher education officials Thursday approved a nearly 16 percent tuition increase for incoming freshmen at Kansas University, and KU administrators say parents are applauding.
Because that rate will stay in effect for those freshmen for four years under a new tuition compact.
KU Provost Richard Lariviere said at freshman orientation sessions this summer that parents actually applauded when told about the upcoming tuition plan.
"There are rarely moments of spontaneous applause at student orientations, but this generates one," Lariviere told the Kansas Board of Regents.
Meanwhile, the regents approved a 7.3 percent increase in tuition and fees for other resident undergraduates at KU and 6.5 percent for nonresident undergraduates. That brings the cost of a 15-hour course load for a resident undergraduate to $3,299.75 and for a nonresident to $8,053.25.
Lariviere said the increased tuition will go toward faculty and staff salary increases, higher pay for students in work-study programs, utility bills and other improvements on campus.
Faculty will receive merit increases that average 5.5 percent, he said. Support staff will receive a 3 percent across-the-board salary increase, with an additional average merit increase of 1.5 percent.
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, which is 15.9 percent more than the current rate of $183.75. For full-time, resident freshmen, tuition will be $3,408 per semester, which is $468 more than this year. 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.
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.
Several regents praised KU for taking the lead with such an idea.
"Innovative cost-containment proposals such as KU's tuition compact are certainly refreshing, and I'm anxious to see how students benefit from this plan in the coming years," said newly elected regents chairwoman Christine Downey-Schmidt.
The freshmen tuition compact and KU's increase for other students were approved unanimously - but several regents expressed concern.
Janie Perkins said because the tuition compact emphasized that students complete their degrees in four years, KU should step up its efforts to help retain first-year students. Approximately one in five freshmen at KU does not continue after the first year.
But Lariviere said he hoped the regents would allow KU to raise its standards for admitting students because some students who come to KU are not prepared for college.
"Please helps us solve this problem," he said.
The regents also approved increases for the other public universities. Resident undergraduate tuition and fees will go up 7.9 percent at Kansas State, 6.4 percent at Wichita State, 9.5 percent at Emporia State, 7.1 percent at Pittsburg State and 5.1 percent at Fort Hays State.