Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fee accountability

Any student paying extra course fees in a Kansas University professional school deserves an accounting of how that money is spent.

July 6, 2010


Questions being raised about the use of extra tuition dollars charged in the Kansas University School of Business should get the attention of every KU school that charges “differential” tuition supposedly to fund its special program needs.

Students in KU’s master of business administration program pay an additional $85 per credit hour. Several MBA students now have filed complaints about the lack of student oversight of that money and their concerns about how the money was spent.

When the Kansas Board of Regents approved the differential tuition program in 2004, the plan required the school to establish a student advisory committee to guide how the money was used and issue a semiannual report to all students on the expenditures.

Now, just six years later, KU business school officials admit that the student committee was allowed to lapse about 20 months ago. They also say that while the advisory committee was functioning, it changed the reporting requirement to replace the semiannual report with updates to student groups.

Although business school officials say they recognize the need to restart the student advisory committee, they also defended their use of the extra tuition money, saying that since the program was instituted, the school has added several majors, additional teaching assistants and classes. Some of the funds also were used for scholarships and study abroad programs.

MBA students aren’t the only KU students paying differential tuition fees to support their specific programs. In fact, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the only KU school that doesn’t charge the differential fees, ranging from $211 per hour for law students to about $20 per hour for education and music students.

It’s easy to understand why students in the business school or in other schools would be suspicious about how the arbitrary amounts of extra tuition money are really benefiting their educational experience. If the schools aren’t keeping up with requirements to involve students and report their spending, it’s impossible for students to know how the additional money is being spent.

Like general tuition and fees, the differential tuition fees for each KU professional school continue to rise. It may be impossible to itemize how every dollar of regular tuition contributes to a student’s education, it isn’t unreasonable for students to want a closer accounting of their differential tuition dollars — not just in the business school but in every school that collects that money.


volunteer 5 years ago

Good lord, so what is the total law school tuition these days? And I know that we don't want the Board of Regents to micromanage...but somebody has been asleep at the switch re: this special program fee (as well as in other areas).

Do the Regents need to meet twice a month like the Lawrence school board? Or do we trust the KU Administration now that a new chancellor has a year of KU experience under her belt.

Another good editorial. Good for the MBA students who brought this to our attention.

penguin 5 years ago

Well the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences does not charge differential tuition, but is not from lack of trying. They were planning to charge one a few years back. They developed brochures detailing the plans on where this money would go, which included among other things refacing Wescoe. They started to get some pressure and had a student vote of sorts-it was less formal than a student referendum. The students voted overwhelmingly against it. This effort mostly failed b/c differential tuition in CLAS is just a tuition increase because, it's hard to be an undergrad and not take any number of classes in CLAS.

This oversight authority for differential tuitions is as big a joke as any of the tuition oversight mechanisms that seemingly involve student input at KU. It's no surprise that the School of Business just stopped having them meet. All that KSBOR requires is consultation and you can bet that this committee will be back in existence and their decisions largely ignored.

nsmels 5 years ago

the University thrives on its special fees; just look at the $485 "Campus usage fee" , that must be paid by every student regardless of how many hours they take. A part time student taking only 1 class must pay the full fee, the same as a full time student who actually lives on campus. Ridiculous.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

I often distribute practice exercises to my students. When they ask, "Can you please distribute the answers, too?" I respond jokingly, "Answers? Only for premium subscribers."

WhyYouSoStuben 5 years ago

I graduated several years ago from the KU MBA program and served in its leadership for my tenure there. When we, as student groups, tried to gain future funding and resources for our student groups, our request went unanswered. While they were willing to fund events or trips upon request, it is nearly impossible to develop programming and maintain interest without proper funding. Our goal was simply to ensure that future students had more opportunities that we. As hard as we worked, it is very hard to pass that vision to the next group of leaders, especially if they do not feel empowered.

Aside from paying differential tuition, we were also expected to take a good number of our courses at the Edwards Campus. These details were not communicated to myself or other students. Again, another letter/proposal. We received no written or verbal response from the Administration. It seems to me that a number of the graduate programs at the university have trouble communicating their expectations, telling the truth about how much funding is ACTUALLY available, and what support they provide/do not provide.

My wife came to another graduate program only to find out that her fellowship was one year and that she would have to teach to gain tuition waivers... however, one can only teach for so long, according to the "rules", and she has had to find employment outside her department and the university in order for us to stay afloat... not even to mention the time it takes to research and write, have to pay out of state tuition for 6 years, and the regulated time limit placed upon those in MA/PhD programs.

STEP IT UP ALREADY! Practice what you preach. Identify your stakeholders and redefine your values. Maintain programs are sustainable and recruit ethically... If you can't provide something for your students (consumers), then SAY SO or get out the business.

ku_mba_student 5 years ago

1) Undergraduates in the KU School of Business pay $96.60 per credit hour in differential tuition while Masters students pay $176.15 per credit hour.

2) There are no minutes documenting the elimination of the committee. The documents including required semi-annual financial statements and required semi-annual reports to the student body in regards to how differential tuition funds were spent also do not exist. This is highly suspicious.

3) The differential tuition committee was disbanded in 2006, not 20 months ago, and the Dean's statement that the New Building Advisory Committee had supervisory authority in subsequent years is ludicrous.

4)The bottom line is that the Dean and his staff should be terminated for violating a Board of Regents Agreement and a full external audit should be conducted.

hbjayhawk 5 years ago


The Dean and his staff should not necessarily be terminated. This is another example of the previous Provosts' lack of competency in fulfilling his responsibility. I believe the faculty should "drive" the spending/advisory process. The Dean might have let it lapse, but the faculty should take ownership and the Provost should demand accountability.

Regardless, the MBA program isn't something I believe warrants the fee differential. After all, look at where a majority of the grads end of (unemployed with debt). A few do very well however, like 40K a year in the KC area . . . boooooo!!!

PugnaciousJayhawk 5 years ago

Differential Tuition was a student led initiative and therefore one can conclude that the students should be the ones driving the spending/advisory process. The fact that someone like the Dean of the KU School of Business would eliminate oversight of 40% of his budget in a state institution is absurd. KU has serious institutional issues. Grey-Little & Vitter need to conduct a complete house cleaning.

chocolateplease 5 years ago

It sounds like some people have an axe to grind. What happened to the student oversight committee; did students graduate?

While the student oversight committee was permitted to lapse and must be reinstated, it's a big leap to talk about suspicion and conspiracy theories. The School uses differential tuition as an additional funding source, as do many of the other professional schools, and I surely doubt it'll be shown that someone was out remodeling their home with it!

penguin 5 years ago

Lawrence Required Campus Fees: $71.49 per credit for enrollments of 5 or less hours. For credits in excess of 5 up to 6 hours is $71.50. For enrollments of 6 or more hours, a flat rate of $428.95 will be assessed. (classes with location of Lawrence Campus).

Info on all the charges at KU.

fuzzyfred1 5 years ago

Differential tuition was originally pegged to the Higher Education Price Index at between 2.3 and 3.6%. Instead, it is increasing at 6%. In the bank there is currently $6.79MM. At that rate in three years it will be more than $8MM. In six years, it will be nearing $10MM. To date, the school has collected $31MM in DT funds. No one can explain why it changed from HEPI to a standard 6%. Why did it change? Who specifically authorized this and why a flat 6%?

fuzzyfred1 5 years ago

Differential tuition was originally pegged to the Higher Education Price Index at between 2.3 and 3.6%. Instead, it is increasing at 6%. In the bank there is currently $6.79MM. At that rate in three years it will be more than $8MM. In six years, it will be nearing $10MM. To date, the school has collected $31MM in DT funds. No one can explain why it changed from HEPI to a standard 6%. Why did it change? Who specifically authorized this and why a flat 6%?

fuzzyfred1 5 years ago

The scholarship fund provided by DT was originally set at $300,000. Increasing at the rate of DT, it should now be $678,900. Actuals expenditures only show around $295,000. Why did the scholarship fund DECREASE? Where is the rest of the money going that’s supposed to be dedicated to scholarships? Why did it not increase at the same rate as DT?

fuzzyfred1 5 years ago

The DT misc fund was originally around $83k. If grown at the same rate DT has grown, it would only be around $187,404. Instead, last year the budgeted $1.8MM for MISC. Actual expenditures show that in 2010, the School only spent around $83,000 in MISC. If it was budgeted for $1.8 million and only $83K was spent, where did the rest of the money get moved to? Why was the budgeting off by $1.7 million?

BICMO 4 years, 11 months ago

I would assume, and I'm just spit balling here, that perhaps DT has had to cover the lack of funding from the state. While that may not be inline with the original goals of DT it is certainly better than cutting more programs. There certainly should be an external review of DT, but by both calling for this review and at the same time demanding the resignation or termination of the deans these MBA's are showing their hand a bit. I wonder how much compensation Prof. Birch stands to miss out on now that CIBER has been lost. Also, if you look into the lapse of the CIBER program you'll see that it was not inaction on the dean's part, but instead a lack of funding from the DoE. While calling for transparency this group certainly seems to hide their motives rather well.

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