Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2009

Legacy tuition?

Just because university students come to Kansas doesn’t mean they’ll stay here.

February 5, 2009


Why would one assume that out-of-state students who follow their parents to Kansas University won’t leave Kansas after graduation?

That’s what their parents did.

The assumption that KU students who have some family ties to the state are more likely to stay here after they graduate and contribute to the Kansas economy is one of the primary selling points KU administrators are using for legislation that would clear the way for a “legacy tuition” program. The program would reduce tuition for out-of-state students who have a parent, grandparent or legal guardian who graduated from KU.

In testimony this week to the House Higher Education Committee, KU officials were careful to point out that these students still would be covering the actual cost of their education at a state university. Standard out-of-state tuition is significantly higher than the actual cost of educating these students, and the legacy program would only work with the margin between that tuition and actual cost.

The legislation under consideration (House Bill 2007) actually grants broad authority for the Kansas Board of Regents to approve programs that not only offer fellowships and scholarships but waive tuition and fees for certain students. The bill doesn’t specifically mention legacy tuition programs, but that is one way it could be used.

It makes sense that waiving tuition, especially tuition that exceeds the cost of educating a student, puts less financial strain on universities than coming up with additional financial aid to offset the cost of tuition. A special program that applies that principle only to offspring of KU graduates, however, seems odd.

If universities are trying to attract top students in hopes they’ll stay in Kansas after graduation, it makes more sense to offer tuition waivers to students based on their academic potential rather than their parentage. Is there any evidence that the “legacy” angle actually increases the chances that graduates will remain in Kansas?

Most likely, the primary attraction of this plan to KU officials is their hope that alumni will provide particularly fertile ground for such an offer. If they enjoyed their KU experience, a tuition break might be just the incentive alumni need to get their children or grandchildren to take a second look at KU. From a practical standpoint, KU officials are more concerned with getting students to KU than in whether they stay in Kansas after graduation. Doing favors for alumni (i.e., potential donors) also never hurts.

Students paying out-of-state tuition always have helped subsidize the education of Kansas students, so regents and legislators should be careful how much of that money they give away in tuition waivers. It’s also interesting that university officials want to add tuition waivers to their “tool box” to attract students to KU. Perhaps this is the first step in university administrators actually admitting that the rising cost of tuition is creating barriers not only for out-of-state students but for worthy Kansas students as well.


KU_cynic 9 years, 4 months ago

Enlarge this question a bit:Why would any graduate of KU stay here?Face it, Kansas's biggest export is not wheat or airplanes, but rather talented young people.Unfortunately, the "if we build it they will come -- and stay" mentality underpins much of what higher ed is doing in the state. The most recent example is the expansion of KU's pharmacy program and a new building to be paid for mostly by state revenues. I think it's great to expand the pharmacy program to give more talented Kansans a chance to gain entry into a secure career. Kansans who want to study pharmacy shouldn't have to go out of state because of capacity constraints at KU, and no, Provost Lariviere, they can't study art history or sanscrit and expect that the course of their lives wouldn't be adversely affected.However, to think that pumping out more KU degrees in pharmacy will help address the shortage of healthcare professionals in dying small towns across western Kansas is lunacy. That is not where the new pharmacists are going to be moving to start their professional lives.

Tristan Moody 9 years, 4 months ago

Kansas "offers" a way to qualify for in state tuition, but it is next to impossible to actually get it. Even after my wife (originally from Virginia) married me (I've lived in Kansas my whole life), she still doesn't qualify, despite the fact that she's lived here for nearly 5 years. Does anybody have any statistics on how many people apply for in state tuition at KU and actually get it?

asleepinthechapel 9 years, 4 months ago

Tanzer and GlassPit:I'm confused. I thought after you lived here for a year, you are a Kansas resident, and therefore would qualify for in-state tuition fees. That's not right? I moved to Kansas for school. I've finished, but am sticking around because I plan on grad school within the next year or so, and I like the program at KU and would like the opportunity to pay less for graduate school than I did for my undergrad studies. Am I wasting my time or have I just misread what you all posted?

Tristan Moody 9 years, 4 months ago

You have to live here for at least a year, not taking ANY income sources from out of state. Out of state parents pay your health insurance? You're done. Get $50 for your birthday? See ya. Oh, and you're not allowed to be enrolled at all during that year. Finally, you have to "demonstrate intent to make Kansas your permanent residence indefinitely." (direct quote from the KU website) How exactly you do that, I couldn't say.Here's a FAQ: that as well as the brochure (, and you'll see that they make it next to impossible to actually get in state tuition.

Shardwurm 9 years, 4 months ago

Education is about $ not learning. The sooner we all realize that the better off we'll be. Stop drinking the Kool Aid offered by institutes of higher learning and their faculties about how important they are.These institutions are holding the middle class hostage and honestly should be wearing masks and holding guns at enrollment.

WHY 9 years, 4 months ago

We should charge chicago students double.

DalTXJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

As the costs continue to escalate, many students are beginning to question the ROI of a degree. As the costs increases, the ROI is lower. KU has always been made up of some great students from Texas to Chicago. If they are going to continue to attract, this policy would make the ROI of a KU education a valuable proposition.

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