Topeka Leaders at regents universities Thursday said they need tuition and fee increases to deal with budget cuts from the Kansas Legislature, increased costs and student demands.
Speaking to the Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas University’s Interim Provost Danny Anderson said, “We want you to approve the recommendation because we think it will maintain quality.”
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said there has been a steady “de-investment” by state government in higher education since 1985, and that has become more pronounced in the recent budget crisis.
The proposed tuition and fee increases range from 4.1 percent at Fort Hays State University to 8.2 percent at KU for resident, undergraduate students. The increase at Wichita State would be 7.7 percent; Kansas State, 7.4 percent; Emporia State, 6 percent; Pittsburg State, 5.6 percent.
But in KU’s proposal, nearly half the students will see no increase because they are under tuition compacts in which prices are set in their freshmen year and remain the same for four years, school officials said.
The regents received the proposals and will make a decision at their monthly meeting in June. As recommended, the new rates would be in place for the fall semester.
Several regents members said they accepted the need for the increases and noted that student leaders had endorsed them.
Regent Dan Lykins said that in talking with students in coffee shops on Massachusetts street in Lawrence, he heard support for the increased cost of attending college.
“If the state won’t pay, who will? The students are willing to pay for it as long as they know where the money is going,” Lykins said.
But others expressed concerns about the increases, especially new fees, such as the $10 per credit hour fee proposed by KU to improve technology, such as expanding wireless capability.
Regent Ed McKechnie said sometimes the newest technology isn’t needed.
“Let’s make sure we are getting the most absolute bang for the buck,” he said.
And Regent Donna Shank said the increases concerned her at a time when many Kansans are struggling economically.
“I will scrutinize (the proposals) even more heavily this year than I have in the past,” Shank said.
For a resident undergraduate, KU has proposed a 4.6 percent increase in tuition, but that increases to 8.2 percent when adding in the new technology fee. That is the largest increase being sought among the six regents universities, and it means that on a 15-hour course load, the cost will go up from $3,706.85 to $4,012.45 per semester, an increase of $306.60.
Incoming freshmen will face a 6.2 percent increase in the four-year compact tuition rate.
KU’s total package, including increases at the KU Medical Center, will produce more than $11 million in new revenue, which school officials say is insufficient to make up for $43 million in recent state budget cuts.
KU officials say even with the proposed increases, the school remains a bargain, ranking 26th in cost out of 34 comparable public universities.