Archive for Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuition balance

Kansas University officials need to remember that the economic conditions that are challenging KU also affect those who are paying KU tuition.

May 17, 2010

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The headline on the Kansas University news release reads: “KU works to make tuition affordable for all students.”

We realize that state budget cuts have been tough, but it seems that KU needs to work a little harder on that “affordable” tuition goal.

The tuition proposals released by KU this week include plans for a technology “fee” — not tuition increase, but a “fee” — of $10 per credit hour. The fee is scheduled to help modernize classroom technology, expand wireless Internet access and fund programs to improve student retention.

With the new $10-per-hour fee, incoming freshmen entering into the mandatory four-year “tuition compact” will pay $262.50 per credit hour, an increase of 7 percent over last year’s freshmen and a whopping 23 percent increase over freshmen who started at KU in 2007. Students already in a tuition compact won’t pay the new technology fee.

The principle of the tuition compacts is questionable because it essentially takes the estimated tuition for four years and splits it equally over the four years, thereby frontloading tuition for freshmen and sophomores who may or may not last the entire four years. However, given the current rate of tuition inflation at KU, students who can complete a degree in four years seem to be coming out ahead.

The standard tuition that will be paid by students who didn’t come to KU as freshmen will rise by 9.1 percent. Among these students will be those who attended a community college for the first year or two, probably as a way to reduce their tuition costs. According to the proposed rates, they will pay $238.90 per credit hour next fall. All of the proposed tuition increases must be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents.

KU officials say that students are telling them they are willing to pay more to preserve the quality of their university education, but you have to wonder exactly to whom the officials are talking. Are they talking to students who are going to school part time and working to try to make ends meet? Are they talking to parents who pay most of the tuition bills? A small representation of students on KU’s tuition advisory committee probably doesn’t accurately reflect a consensus of KU’s student body about tuition costs.

All six state universities are proposing tuition increases, but, as usual, KU’s is the largest. Kansas State University is proposing a 3 percent increase. It’s true that reductions in state funding have been hard on KU this year, but the economic conditions that prompted those cuts also affect the families who are trying to send their children to KU.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in the news release that KU’s tuition proposal “strikes a good balance” between maintaining accessibility to higher education and addressing the university’s budget challenges. That may be true, but it’s still tough news for Kansans who are trying to balance their budgets while paying tuition for a KU student.

Comments

yankeevet 5 years, 1 month ago

Upon the education expense; and graduation; then that 12 dollar an hour job awaits you.....

texburgh 5 years, 1 month ago

The best advice one can get - do the first two years at Johnson County Community College. This way you avoid the big bills (JCCC is affordable), get a quality experience (JCCC has excellent classes and instructors), avoid the classes of 300 or more (JCCC has small class sizes). The last point is very important since it appears that the intent of KU freshman classes is to weed people out. The combination of this newly liberating college life and impersonal classes built on lectures is criminal. Go to JCCC for two years, then transfer to KU or find a smaller liberal arts college that is more interested in the student than the athletic director or the parent's bank account. Another outstanding and affordable opportunity is right next door at Washburn.

SnakeFist 5 years, 1 month ago

Enrollment is at record levels, so I guess the demand for a college education hasn't exceeded the cost of tuition. But, in my opinion, subjective demand has overestimated the worth of a college degree in at least some fields. It doesn't make financial sense to invest the same amount in a degree in humanities, which provides no specific job qualifications, as a degree in science or engineering. I understand that studying humanties makes us better persons and citizens, but the high cost of tuition makes that a secondary consideration.

texburgh: I agree that JCCC provides a low cost alternative, but the classes don't always transfer very well. Washburn, for example, is very picky about which JCCC classes it accepts.

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