Topeka — Higher education officials on Wednesday approved tuition and fee increases for Kansas’ public universities that they said were the lowest in 13 years.
“These are restrained and the universities have done a good job,” said Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Fred Logan.
Vice Chairman Kenny Wilk said, “I think we are making progress on our strategic plan, and in order to do it you have to have the resources.”
Regent Tim Emert voted for the increases but criticized the Legislature for failing to increase base funding for higher education.
“We continue to put the burden on parents and students and student debt. I don’t think the Legislature deserves any kudos for quote stable unquote funding,” Emert said.
At Kansas University, tuition and fees will go up 3.4 percent for the incoming freshman class over last year’s freshman class.
At KU, freshmen enter a compact, meaning that they will have the same tuition rate for four years.
Because of this compact system, two-thirds of returning KU undergraduates will have no tuition increase.
For students who transfer to KU after their freshman year and for students who are in their fifth or subsequent undergraduate year, tuition and fees will increase 4.6 percent.
At the KU Medical Center, tuition will increase 4.8 percent for in-state students and 4.9 percent for out-of-state students.
For a resident undergraduate, tuition and fees will increase at Kansas State University by 5.2 percent; Wichita State, 4.9 percent; Emporia State, 5.6 percent; Pittsburg State, 5.5 percent; and Fort Hays State, 2.5 percent.
KU has said part of the tuition increase will help provide a 2 percent merit salary increase pool for faculty.
KU Student Body Vice President Miranda Wagner, a senior, said there was a lot of student input into KU’s tuition proposal.
“We are very happy that we are at the low end of increases this year,” she said.
The increase will make it more difficult for students, Wagner said, but she said the schools are forced to increase tuition because of the tight state budget situation.
“Unfortunately, given the political climate in the state, we have to do whatever we can,” she said.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the tuition increases “reflect both the increased costs at the university and decreases in some other sources of support.”
In other business, the regents:
• Approved an academic unit at KU that will lead to Bachelor of Art and Bachelor of General Studies degrees in human sexuality. The major would cover a wide range of subjects examining how sexual identity and practices affect numerous issues and policies.
• Approved expansion of the planned new School of Business building because of greater growth in the school than earlier projected. The expansion will cost $6.8 million, bringing the price tag to approximately $72.5 million. The project will be funded with $62.5 million in private funds and $10 million in university funds.
• Named two planned buildings that will make up the Earth, Energy and Environment Center. The north building will be named Ritchie Hall in honor of KU alumni and donors Scott and Carol Ritchie. The south building will be named Slawson Hall in honor of Donald Slawson, a KU alumnus and former member of the Kansas Board of Regents.
• Named an academic center at Emporia State University the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics. The center has received donations from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, Wichita-based Koch Industries and others. Koch Industries is led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who fund numerous conservative causes.