Topeka — State university leaders Thursday made their case for tuition increases, saying students are demanding a high-level education at the same time that public tax support is dropping.
"We want to make an effort to enhance quality wherever we can," said Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
The Kansas Board of Regents received the proposed increases from regents schools and will vote on them during its June meeting.
That translates into a semester hike from $4,012 to $4,234, a $222 or 5.5 percent increase for an undergraduate taking 15 hours. The non-resident tuition will increase from $9,504 to $10,179, a $675 increase or 7.1 percent.
Tuition and fees under the KU Compact -- first-time, degree-seeking freshman -- which would be fixed for four years would increase from $4,366 to $4,611, or $245, which is a 5.6 percent increase.
If the proposed increases are approved, Gray-Little said KU would remain a bargain. KU ranked 28th in tuition and fees out of 35 public universities that are members of the Association of American Universities, she said.
Under KU's proposal, the increased revenue would be used to cover the cost of unfunded mandates, provide targeted pay increases to retain top faculty and staff, and expand high-demand course offerings.
Regents members noted that state funding to public universities in Kansas has decreased over the past few years.
And they said officials within Gov. Sam Brownback's administration have told them that the level of higher education funding will probably be flat over the next five years while costs for utilities, insurance and other items increase.
"We're in reverse and it looks like we are going to be in reverse for five years," said Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka. He described it as a "sad issue."
All the regents schools were seeking increases. For a resident undergraduate, the increase at Kansas State would 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.