Towering tuition

Approval of tuition increases at Kansas University and other state universities shouldn’t be automatic.

June 15, 2011


When it comes to higher education, officials at Kansas University apparently subscribe to the philosophy that “you get what you pay for” while continuing to hope that KU students will believe that the education they receive justifies the ever-increasing tuition they pay.

On Thursday, the Kansas Board of Regents will consider tuition rates for the six state universities for the 2012-13 academic year. Once again, KU is requesting one of the highest percentage tuition increases in the state system. And, once again, perhaps over some moderate protest from a regent or two, that request probably will be approved.

For once, the 6.2 percent increase KU is seeking in basic tuition for undergraduates who are Kansas residents is not the highest in the state. That honor goes to Emporia State University at 6.9 percent and Pittsburg State University at 6.8 percent. However, both of the smaller schools still are charging in-state tuition that is about half of what KU charges.

Those figures also don’t include the burdensome course fees that jack up tuition bills at KU. Undergraduate course fees ranging from $21 to $112 per hour already have been approved for the 2012-13 school year at KU. Those fees — charged in every school except the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — will rise steadily through the 2015-16 school year, at which time KU officials are requesting additional increases of 5.5 percent to 6 percent across the board.

The state’s three smaller universities — Emporia, Pittsburg and Fort Hays — charge no extra course fees and, unlike KU, Wichita State and Kansas State proposed no increases for 2015-16. Once the fees are figured in, KU’s percentage of increase for overall tuition bills easily surpasses those at all other state universities.

Every year, KU officials say they simply can’t maintain the quality of education at the university without the additional funds and that tuition increases are supported by students, who value that quality. It’s true that state support for its universities has steadily eroded in recent years, but using tuition increases as the primary way to offset that loss is tough on students and their families. The percentage of tuition increases for next year is two to three times the nation’s current rate of inflation.

It seems university officials are satisfied for higher education to become more and more an opportunity reserved for high-income families or students with elite academic credentials who can earn scholarship assistance. Rising tuition rates are putting higher education out of reach for many above-average students who don’t have above-average financial resources.

Does KU care about those students? Year after year of tuition increases that are well ahead of the inflation rate — as well as out of reach for many students and families — make us wonder.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

If student loans are financing college beware. Students may never be able to pay back the loans.

Student loans took on a dramatic change under Bush/Cheney. They became large profit items for the reckless financing industry. Sometimes it appears as though the universities became part of the scam.

How? Universities increased rates. Grant funding sources were reduced No matter how much the universities would require the reckless financial industry would approve. Today we have students graduating with debts of $40,000 - $100,000 in a bogus job market. No collateral. The job market has not been sweet for 7-8 years at least.

USA jobs have going abroad since Reagan/Bush. Yes white collars and blue collars. Corporate america is failing america and americans.

Godot 3 years, 10 months ago

Actually, under Obama, the Federal Government has become the only provider of student loans

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

Hey students go to a school such as Johnson County Community College.

Learn a lot plus graduate with a skilled trade. Look at skills which can employed in an industry that cannot be outsourced.

The USA government and corporate america are NOT working for you

grimpeur 3 years, 10 months ago

Hey, perhaps if the state legislature and the governor reduced the state's support of education even more, our regents institutions will become more competitive!

Up is down!

llama726 3 years, 10 months ago

I really enjoy this column. It complains about a problem caused by the state legislature and blames it on the university. Bravo.

somedude20 3 years, 10 months ago

The smart kids go to JCCC for 2 years cutting their costs in half then switch to a name school for the last two years so that they have a degree for half the price.

llama726 3 years, 10 months ago

There's also nothing wrong with getting a trade education or learning a profession at one of the community colleges. Four year colleges are not for everyone.

somedude20 3 years, 10 months ago

I was not saying anything about college not being for everyone just saying that it is cheaper to go to JCCC for 2 years, pay half the price then switch to a "name" school for half the price. Hope this clears things up for you.......

seagull 3 years, 10 months ago

KU's tuition raise is nothing more than a reflection of exactly how most of the current Kansas governing establishment views education: that education is a PRIVATE, not a public good. Individuals pay for private goods. The only way the author of the editorial can have what he (or she) wants--a top notch university with low tuition--is to provide public funds. The people "we" elected are clearly moving in the other direction, particularly with respect to K-12 education, the arts, social services, etc.. They gave higher education somewhat of a break this year, but our individual expenses go up and so do a university's. When social functions such as education are viewed as a private good the market determines the cost. Just getting what "we" voted for. We all need to realize that the seemingly simple solutions of "cutting costs" and not raising revenues have very REAL consequences. This is one of them.

Godot 3 years, 10 months ago

Tax the endowment funds the same way private investors are taxed, and direct that tax revenue back to the universities.

ltownatrain 3 years, 10 months ago

Tell us how on earth does taxing a schools endowment funds and giving it back makes any sense. If you tax a schools endowment then all you are doing is taking money from a school that people have donated and then forwarding that money back to the school. Essentially, it would be taxing the school for a gift they were given that the donor actually gets to write off on taxes. That would just waste incredible amounts of time and would just put up a facade that the state is actually funding institutions when they are not. Not to mention that if they did something like this it would take money from restricted endowments that fund such things as the Arts that would otherwise go unfunded and allow a school to spend the money however they want. This idea literally makes no sense.

Godot 3 years, 10 months ago

It forces the endowments to put their money to work actually funding education, and not perpetuating large investment pools and highly paid staffs and luxurious buildings.

ltownatrain 3 years, 10 months ago

it also takes money from restricted endowments that are used for funding education and allows the university to use them for whatever they please. In all actuality it doesn't make the school anymore money because the universities would actually have more freedom if this was done to do whatever they want including increasing salaries and building new buildings. Thus your idea doesn't really fix the problem it just enhances it on a new level.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.