TOPEKA — Kansas University has proposed a 4 percent tuition increase for next year, although higher-than-expected state budget cuts — announced minutes after the chancellor presented to the Kansas Board of Regents — could lead to a bigger hike.
The Regents received and discussed 2016-17 tuition proposals from KU and the other five state universities Wednesday afternoon. The Regents were scheduled to take action on the tuition proposals at their June meeting, although it appears proposals may change before then.
As the Regents met, across the street Gov. Sam Brownback signed the state budget and ordered additional allotment cuts to higher education, including cuts to KU that were millions more than expected.
Proposed 2016-17 semesterly tuition for in-state undergraduates
• KU (standard rate) — $4,743 (4 percent increase over 2015-16)
• KU (compact rate) — $5,193 (5 percent increase)
• KU Medical Center — $4,791 (5 percent increase)
• KSU — $4,471 (5 percent increase)
• WSU — $3,192 (5 percent increase)
• ESU — $2,422 (3.9 percent increase)
• PSU — $2,685 (5 percent increase)
• FHSU — $1,876 (5 percent increase)
Proposed 2016-17 semesterly tuition for out-of-state undergraduates
• KU (standard rate) — $12,362 (4 percent increase over 2015-16)
• KU (compact rate) — $13,506 (5 percent increase)
• KU Medical Center — $12,481 (5 percent increase)
• KSU — $11,862 (5 percent increase)
• WSU — $7,562 (5 percent increase)
• ESU — $8,966 (4 percent increase)
• PSU — $8,048 (3.3 percent increase)
• FHSU — $6,602 (5 percent increase)
Source: Kansas Board of Regents
Regents chairman Shane Bangerter broke the news immediately following the final university president's tuition presentation.
“It appears obvious that we’ll be taking a hard look at this issue as we receive additional reductions in excess of what we expected,” Bangerter said. “Wish I had better news, but we will all deal with it and come out as strong as we can.”
Elaine Frisbie, Regents vice president for finance and administration, said the system had girded for 3 percent budget cuts when preparing tuition proposals. With cuts averaging 4 percent instead, she said it would be up to individual schools to determine whether they’ll need to amend their tuition proposals.
Any amendments to tuition proposals will come back to the board in June, Frisbie said.
For now it’s unclear whether the budget news will send KU back to the drawing board on its tuition proposals.
“Given the magnitude of the $10.7 million reduction to KU, we will need a few days to carefully analyze its effects, which will be significant,” KU vice chancellor of public affairs Tim Caboni said in a statement.
All state universities’ proposed tuition increases already are larger than they were last year, when the Legislature imposed a 3.6 percent cap on tuition increases.
For 2016-17, KU’s proposed 4 percent increase was nearly the lowest, percentage-wise. All other state universities proposed in-state undergraduate tuition increases of 5 percent, except Emporia State University, which proposed an increase of 3.9 percent.
Under KU’s current tuition proposal, an in-state undergraduate would pay $4,743 per semester — $5,228 including required fees — to attend KU during the 2016-17 academic year. That’s an increase of $182 — or $200 including required fees — over 2015-16.
Incoming KU freshmen, for the second year, may opt to pay a compact tuition rate instead. It’s significantly higher, but it’s locked in for four years.
KU’s proposed compact rate for in-state undergraduates is $5,193 per semester, or $5,678 including required fees. That’s a tuition increase of $247, or 5 percent, over the 2015-16 compact rate.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that last year, the first year freshmen had the option of signing up for the compact rate, 18 percent did.
“At least when you start out, the compact looks more expensive because you have to set it at a rate that remains the same,” she said.
KU’s proposed standard tuition of $4,743 for in-state undergrads remains the most expensive in the state.
The next-highest is Kansas State University, which is proposing tuition of $4,471 per semester. The cheapest is still Fort Hays State University, which is proposing tuition of $1,876 per semester.
KU’s tuition proposals also include 4 percent to 5 percent increases for out-of-state, graduate and KU Medical Center students. KU’s undergraduate tuition rates are based on a 15-hour course load.
Gray-Little and other university leaders said their tuition proposals represented a balance between quality and access. Among other financial needs, several leaders cited a need to provide faculty and staff raises, to help attract and retain the best employees.
“We’re looking at quality,” Gray-Little said. “We also realize that tuition is about money and what students have to pay.”