Topeka Kansas University officials Tuesday asked lawmakers to allow them to grant tuition breaks to students from out of state who are children or grandchildren of KU alumni.
The so-called legacy tuition plan would help bring top-quality students from other states who may be inclined to stay in Kansas after they graduate, KU Provost Richard Lariviere said.
That would benefit the Kansas economy, help KU compete against neighboring states that have similar legacy policies, and better manage enrollment in the face of declining numbers of high school graduates in Kansas, Lariviere said.
“We have also been told repeatedly by our alumni who are outside the state of Kansas, they would dearly love to send their children to KU if we could only provide some scholarship,” Lariviere said to the House Higher Education Committee.
House Bill 2007 would authorize the Kansas Board of Regents to consider and approve a broader range of tuition waivers as proposed by state universities. Higher education officials said all six regents universities supported the measure.
Four KU executives spoke in favor of the legislation, as did Lydia Peele, president of the Kansas State University student body.
“This bill would give flexibility to K-State by allowing us to adjust tuition for selected, talented nonresident students seeking to attend K-State,” Peele said. No one testified against the bill.
The Higher Education Committee took no action on the measure, but several members had concerns.
State Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, said he feared that lowering out-of-state tuition for some students would result in the universities losing tuition dollars.
But KU officials said they believed that wouldn’t happen because many students who otherwise wouldn’t have attended KU will enroll.
State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said the specific plan outlined by KU wasn’t included in the bill. But higher education officials said the bill was designed to let the regents review each school’s plan and determine if it made sense.
State Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said he supported the concept but that the legislation needed to be tightened up.
“Maybe we need language to get to where we all want to be,” Rhoades said.
Danny Anderson, vice president for academic affairs at KU, said the school has proposed the Jayhawk Generations Tuition Plan.
It would be offered to out-of-state students who meet KU admissions requirements and have at least one parent, grandparent or legal guardian who graduated from KU.
Currently out-of-state tuition is nearly $10,000 more per year than tuition for Kansas residents. That out-of-state tuition rate is about 45 percent more than the actual cost of a KU education, Anderson said.
So under the plan, officials could lower that tuition, but not any lower than the cost of an education, KU said.
Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success at KU, said the school typically admits about 450 students each year who would be eligible for Jayhawk Generation Tuition Plan. But only about 150 of those end up attending.
The difference in out-of-state and resident tuition, Roney said, “is an obstacle for many.”
Kevin Corbett, president and chief executive officer of the KU Alumni Association, said not having a legacy program puts KU at a disadvantage in recruiting quality students against states that do have such programs.
The Black Alumni chapter of the KU Alumni Association also submitted testimony in favor of the bill, saying it would help the state economy and increase diversity at the school.