It seems that Kansas University isn't the only state university trying to put a positive spin on rising tuition rates.
Officials at Kansas State University issued a press release this week indicating that the school was proposing a "lower tuition increase." The move, it said, was "to respond to difficult economic conditions and concerns from students and their parents."
The only problem is that the new tuition proposal actually will result in many students paying more than they would have under an earlier proposal taken to the Kansas Board of Regents.
K-State initially was pursuing a plan to hold down tuition for freshmen and sophomores by charging a higher rate for juniors and seniors. The proposal presented to the regents was to raise tuition by 4.5 percent for resident freshmen and sophomores and 7.3 percent for resident juniors and seniors.
The plan announced this week is to raise tuition by 5.85 percent across the board. That's obviously better for upperclassmen but not so great for freshmen and sophomores.
Although it seems disingenuous to portray this as a "lower tuition increase," K-State, like KU, offers various justifications for its action. The Kansas Legislature gets significant blame for not providing better higher education funding.
Officials also point out that "tuition increases are offset by additional financial aid and more scholarships." This Robin Hood approach of taking tuition money from some students and sharing it with students who supposedly are more worthy or in greater need gets surprisingly little attention from higher education officials in spite of the fact that it displays a basic lack of fairness, especially to the students and their families who are scraping together loans and savings to pay full tuition.
The Board of Regents is scheduled to take final action on university tuition rates at its meeting on Thursday. When the regents consider those rates, they should keep their focus on the effect rising tuition is having on the availability of higher education to Kansas students and the cost of this education for families and students who already are facing severe fiscal challenges. Regents should not be fooled by the tuition spin being served up by university officials.