Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Families of incoming KU freshmen say tuition increase is ‘just part of life’

June 26, 2013


Incoming Kansas University freshmen and their families crowded the hallways of the Kansas Union on Wednesday, clutching blue folders, meeting with advisers and pondering degree requirements.

And some of them had one other thing on their minds: How much the next four years (or more) are going to cost.

Their orientation session, one of more than 15 taking place for first-time freshmen throughout the summer at KU, took place about one week after the Kansas Board of Regents approved a 4.4 percent increase in their tuition and fees, and less than a week before interest rates on subsidized federal student loans threaten to double.

Most returning KU undergraduates won’t see their price go up, because KU’s Four-Year Tuition Compact keeps their tuition stable. But first-time freshmen will feel the increase.

And while none of the students or parents who spoke with the Journal-World on Wednesday were enthusiastic about the increase, most shared a similar reaction: What can you do?

“Everybody’s raising rates,” said Denis Niehues of Maple Hill, there for his daughter Stacie’s orientation. “I mean, it’s just part of life.”

That’s certainly the case among state universities in Kansas, at least. KU’s increase will make Stacie’s class of KU freshmen the first to pay more than $5,000 in in-state tuition and fees for a typical semester, but it was a lower percentage increase than those approved for Wichita State, Pittsburg State, Kansas State or Emporia State universities. And it’s the smallest increase by percentage for students at KU’s Lawrence campus in more than 10 years.

“He’s got to go to school,” said Mary Gonzales of Shawnee of her son, Richard. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

Brenda and Jeff Schneider of Mulvane said they were in no hurry to make it to all of their orientation sessions Wednesday, as they’ve been through this before: They’re sending their third child to KU this fall.

And to them, they said, KU is still a good deal even though tuition has increased since their oldest son came to campus in 2007. It’s worth it for their kids to go to a school with KU’s reputation and real college-life experience, even if they have to take out a few loans, they said.

“We didn’t like it, of course,” Jeff said of the tuition spike, “but it’s not going to change our minds.”

But George and Carrine Lovelace of Prairie Village, as they finished lunch at the Union, said they worried that the choice to go to KU — or to any four-year college —may soon no longer be an easy one for many students, if prices continue to rise.

And, George said, the rising costs mean they’re pushing their daughter, Vanessa, to go into a professional program with a clear pathway to a career. He’d heard an adviser talk about liberal arts degrees earlier in the day, he said, but he worried that such a program wouldn’t allow Vanessa to recoup her investment.

“When you pick a degree, you can’t really think about something I like,” George said. “You have to think about what this pays me.”

Vanessa said she’s thinking about majoring in pre-pharmacy.

Other students said Wednesday that as they mapped out their fall-semester schedules and worried about getting ready to leave for school, the cost of their tuition wasn’t at the front of their minds — at least not yet.

“I’m not really worried about it right now,” said Richard Gonzales, who’s planning to study graphic design at KU. “But later I will be.”


mikekt 4 years, 12 months ago

I guess that these people don't vote or they got who they voted for and can't complain about the outcome !

This won't be the last increase in tuition for these people.

They will probably raise the expected cost by another 25% within four years, which doesn't count the congressional screwing around and effecting their interest rates, long term .

Oh, well, what can you do but vote for the same group of pseudo religious wise guys who are out to fleece you ?

Gee, if your kid was about to enroll in a state sponsored school, what you'd you say, knowing that this is Kansas ? You do want your kid to graduate with good grades ? don't you ?

Of course you are going to talk like a ready made victim !

elliottaw 4 years, 12 months ago

State funding has dropped from about 60% to around 20% how would you like them to make up that difference?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 12 months ago

During what time period did that drop happen, so we might correctly assign blame?

How does that drop compare with other states, so we might see if this is just our state or a national trend?

elliottaw 4 years, 12 months ago

30 states have increased funding for the upcoming budget year.

but here is a link to an article with more content

"Moran said the reductions are a continuation of a long-term trend that has reduced the state’s funding of universities from about 75 percent of total funding in the 1970s and 1980s to 22 percent now."

Read more here:

ku99 4 years, 12 months ago

Cannot do anything about it? You kidding? Kansas is a such a stupid state. It does not matter what happens, they will always vote for a Sam Brownback look-alike. It is your vote that is doing this. You gave Sam Brownie his veto-proof majority. There are times when you need to support tax increases on the wealthy for the good of the society. By supporting these wealthy fat cats, these people are destroying tax support for education, schools etc. and falling into Koch brothers plan. Less funding from state equals more targeted private funding and a seat on school boards and universities for Koch. Wake up. It is amazing these parents of kids will not change their ideology and voting patterns that actually hurts their own cause. Many kids just cannot afford this. Universities have to depend on Koch funds and students from abroad to support funding. Students from abroad is a good thing but there needs to be a good balance for discussion and interactions. Our state governments are undercutting (e,g. Kansas) us.

By the way, these fat cats are not creating jobs with tax cuts. They send their kids to other states for education and use some funds to create one low-paying job, and the rest on family vacations abroad.

Mark Pickerel 4 years, 12 months ago

It's terribly unfortunate that the support of Higher Ed is being shifted, not so gradually, away from the states to the Federal Financial Aid system. That makes the interest rate hikes all the more painful.

The states, particularly Kansas, are abdicating their responsibility in supporting Higher Education. But they still want to control them, mandating things like an "Adult Stem Cell Center" at KUMC while cutting funding at the same time.

KU should just go private and tell all of these clowns to go jump in a lake.

Patricia Davis 4 years, 12 months ago

Sadly 20% of KU's budget is still a very large number. I agree with the sentiment and have for along time. I also say: give up football.

Mark Pickerel 4 years, 12 months ago

What does football have to do with it? It's privately supported.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 12 months ago

Larry brings up an interesting point. At some point, gradually, over time (since the 70's?), we've allowed American business to create a new incestuous aristocracy of the Ivy League. Perhaps business just got lazy and no longer wanted to evaluate talent. It's much easier to promote resumes. Or perhaps it was more intentional - we want only people like us working in upper management. That trend, seen in many allegedly progressive Asian countries, does lead to an aristocracy. Only the well off can afford the elite educations and only those with the elite educations are in the positions controlling both the economy and government. One of the primary goals of a public education and a robust well funded higher education was to prevent the natural tendency of an aristocracy developing among the wealthy and overwhelming development of a meritocracy.

Orwell 4 years, 12 months ago

As one of the parents writing tuition checks I say it's most certainly not "just part of life" – it's just part of the plutocrats fleecing the middle class in order to pad their own considerable assets.

WilburM 4 years, 12 months ago

The tuition increases from KU and the other Regents institutions are nothing more than tax increases, imposed selectively on those students and parents who choose one of these universities. It doesn't count on the governor's precious ledger as a tax increase, but rest assured it's exactly that. And it's done with purpose and cynicism.

Tomato 4 years, 12 months ago

I don't want to imply that directing your kid toward a professional program is the wrong decision, but it does come with additional costs.

School of Business: $120/credit hour. School of Pharmacy: $174/credit hour (for 2012 - hasn't been updated for the upcoming year) School of Law: $247/credit hour. And about $50/hour for Engineering, Architecture, and any hour taken at Edwards.

Clearly, when people are looking at the total cost of a degree, they may wish to consider sending their children to JOCO for as many of their general education requirements as will transfer.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 12 months ago

That's sad about Law School. New pharmacists on average likely make, and it actually probably costs more to educate them. Lawyers are produced in large lecture halls. Never thought I'd be thinking like my parents whose reference points were the hard times of the Great Depression. I never thought that by referring to the 70's, I'd be talking ancient history to the rest of you. It wasn't just the cost of gas or other things, it was also the fact that you could work at a school cafeteria and make money that actually paid for things related to your education. Back then, a 10 hour job paid a credit hour at Washburn.

seebarginn 4 years, 12 months ago

I like the easygoing attitude of the person quoted in the headline--sort of. For those families who have decided to have their children go to KU and are willing and able to pay the higher tuition, having this kind of perspective is probably best. But no, this isn't "just part of life." Nor is it one of those situations where one should respond with "life isn't fair." Those cliches should be reserved for things in life that no one can help. These tuition increases were not inevitable. There were other options. The legislature decided to cut higher education as much as they cut it, knowing that it would push KU into a bad spot on tuition; they did not have to cut so much, and Brownback was against their cuts before he was for them and signed the bill (no spine). Kansans don't have to put up with political leaders that make reckless, stupid decisions that have bad, widespread long-term consequences. This is just one of those decisions. I am more worried about the increasing numbers of poor Kansas residents, many of them children, than I am about the middle- and upper-middle class folks dealing with tuition rises.

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