Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents served notice to state universities Wednesday to not expect business as usual when setting tuition rates for next year.
In fact, the words "freeze" and "cap" were used with such frequency that the 7 percent to 10 percent tuition increases of the past decade appear over. Regents said they would make a decision at their February meeting on what levels of increases would be allowed.
"For the last half decade our tuition growth, and it varies, has outgrown our CPI (consumer price index) each and every year. It's outgrown the higher education price index each year," Regent Gary Sherrer said. "But the per capita income of the people who have to pay (tuition)? It's pretty unchanged."
Regent Jill Docking said the tuition increases have been serving as a tax increase on students.
"Essentially, we've shifted the tax burden from the citizens of the state to these kids," Docking said. "As a conservative Democrat, I'd like to shift the tax burden off these parents and kids."
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Kansas State University President Jon Wefald said the regents were asking "healthy questions."
Hemenway cited KU's fixed four-year tuition rate for freshmen as an effort to keep costs reasonable.
"Our intent with the compact was to approach tuition through a different way than we have before," Hemenway said.
Wefald said higher tuition presents Kansans with a choice.
"You can either pay for access to mediocrity or you can pay for access to excellence," Wefald said. "We're choosing excellence."
But Regent Dan Lykins had a telling comment: "I think when this is decided, Kansas parents and students will be smiling."
Kansas Board of Regents
- KU praises Sebelius' budget (01-17-08)
- Tax credits will help university with deferred maintenance (01-17-08)
- Legislature wrestles with spending priorities (01-13-08)
- Regents seek more grants for students (01-06-08)
- In-state tuition fight may head to high court (12-30-07)
- Regents proposal facing close scrutiny (12-24-07)
- University housing rates set to rise (12-21-07)