Topeka Kansas Board of Regents members have told public university leaders to start working on next year's tuition proposals now.
"Given the significance of that revenue stream … we need to be thinking of that number," Regents Chairman Kenny Wilk said earlier this week during a budget session.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said tuition discussions usually start in the spring semester but can be moved up.
"We could start earlier in the year," Gray-Little told Wilk. "We could do that in the fall," she said.
Traditionally, the regents receive tuition and fee requests from the universities in May and approve them in June. Based on last June's decision, at KU, tuition and fees will go up 3.4 percent for the incoming freshman class over last year’s freshman class. Freshmen at KU enter a tuition compact, meaning that they will have the same tuition rate for four years.
In budget discussions with the regents, Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz put in a 5 percent tuition increase for next year but noted that was only a "marker" and no decision had been made.
But board members said they wanted the schools to have a more definite idea of what they would request as they formulate a budget proposal for Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature.
In recent years, universities have had to rely more on tuition from students as state funding has decreased.
From 1999 to now, state funding has decreased from $15,534 per student to $9,582 per student at KU, according to school figures.
Vice Chairman Shane Bangerter said, "If the budget from the Legislature doesn't increase, we have to make up for it somehow."
Higher education officials in some states have reached agreements with legislators and policymakers to hold the line on tuition increases in exchange for increased state funding.
Schulz said it might be worth trying to do that in Kansas. "Cutting a deal might be politically good for legislators and good for our students," he said.