Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday approved $26 million in tuition and fee increases for public universities, including Kansas University, and several board members blamed the Legislature for decreasing its tax dollar commitment to higher education.
“I wish we didn’t have to do this,” said Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman. “This is the option we have left until our partners come back and help us with this process.”
“Everything is going up except state funding. The question is who is going to pay for it,” said Dan Lykins of Topeka.
For now, the answer is students will have to pay more.
Starting this fall at KU, tuition and required fees will increase from $4,012 to $4,234, a $222 or 5.5 percent increase for an undergraduate taking 15 hours.
The tuition for a non-Kansas resident will increase from $9,504 to $10,179, a $675 increase or 7.1 percent. Graduate students will face a 5.5 percent increase for residents and 5.9 percent for non-residents.
Tuition and fees under the KU Compact — for first-time, degree-seeking freshmen — will increase from $4,366 to $4,611, or $245, which is a 5.6-percent increase. That cost will be fixed for four years. Nonresident students will see an increase from $10,769 to $11,304, or 5 percent.
Since the KU Compact has been in effect for several years, 65 percent of returning under-graduates will see no tuition increase, according to KU.
Students at KU Medical Center will see a 4.9 percent increase.
All the regents schools were granted increases. For a resident undergraduate, the tuition and fee increase at Kansas State will be 3.8 percent; Wichita State, 5.1 percent; Emporia State, 6.8 percent; Pittsburg State, 6.5 percent; and Fort Hays State, 3.6 percent.
Regents members said the tuition increases were needed to cover increased costs in utilities and employee health insurance, pay for increased mandates from the Legislature, and make up for continued budget cuts.
The budget signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback allocates an estimated $744 million to higher education for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That is down from the $753 million for the current fiscal year. During the two years prior to that, higher education was cut by approximately $100 million as the state reeled from the recession.
Regent Jarold Boettcher of Manhattan said the tuition increases are tied to the decreasing state commitment to higher education. “It’s not an accident. It’s not a coincidence. It’s a fact,” he said.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the increases at KU were needed to make up for increasing costs, such as in health insurance and utilities, and also will be used to give raises to top faculty, increase the availability of high-demand classes, and for student retention support services.
She said private universities and public universities in faster growing states are trying to lure away faculty.
Additionally, about $400,000 of the increase will be added to the $10.3 million in need-based grants.
“We are going to continue to do everything we can to make sure students who want to come to KU, who can do college work, have an opportunity to do that,” she said.