KU seeks 3 percent hike in tuition and fees; that would make one semester of undergrad education cost $5,573

The University of Kansas is seeking an overall 3 percent increase in resident tuition and fees for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year, a larger increase than was approved last year, despite an increase in state support that was just approved by the Kansas Legislature.

The Kansas Board of Regents got its first look at each state university’s tuition and fee proposals Wednesday at its regular monthly meeting at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. The board could change the amounts before it votes next month on final tuition and fee schedules for each school.

KU’s proposal would raise the cost for an in-state undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours to $5,573.95 per semester next year, an increase of $162.45. For an in-state graduate student taking 12 credit hours, the cost would be $5,513.35 per semester, an increase of $161.40.

The proposal also calls for a 2.9 percent increase for nonresident students. That would cost an extra $383.70 per semester for undergraduates and $343.20 for graduate students.

In addition, KU will no longer offer a four-year “compact” rate that allowed incoming students to lock in one price for four years, although it will honor those agreements aready in place.

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Regents that the increases were necessary to keep up with rising costs, and that the proposed rate hikes won’t even cover all of that.

“Faculty raises are not part of this conversation and staff raises are not part of this conversation,” he said. “What we’re really dealing with is a rapid increase in our fixed costs.”

Among those, he said, were the costs of bringing new facilities online, as well as a 7.5 percent increase in health care costs.

Last year, the Regents approved 2.5 percent increases across the board for KU’s Lawrence campus.

The budget bill that lawmakers passed this year, and which Gov. Jeff Colyer signed into law Tuesday, provides a $15 million increase in state funding for public universities next year. Roughly $2.5 million of that will go to KU.

That increase, however, represents only a partial restoration of a $30.7 million cut — including $6.7 million cut from KU’s Lawrence campus — that then-Gov. Sam Brownback ordered in the 2016-2017 academic year as part of a package of “allotment” cuts needed to balance that year’s budget.

According to information from the Board of Regents, even with the $15 million restoration, total state general fund support for higher education will be $72.7 million less next year than it was a decade ago.

Every year since 2012, student tuition has paid for a larger share of universities’ overall budgets than state general fund support has, and the gap between those two sources of revenue has been widening.

KU is not the only university seeking tuition and fee hikes next year, but it is the the largest proposed increase and the only one that would be larger than last year’s increase.

Some members of the board, including Regent Zoe Newton of Wichita, said they were uncomfortable about the prospect of raising tuition after the Legislature added back $15 million in funding. But others said the increases appeared reasonable because the new money next year won’t make up for the last decade of declining funding.

“Our state has really got to decide whether they value education or not,” said Regent Ann Brandau-Murguia of Kansas City, Kan.

This story was last updated on May 16, 2018 at 7:23 p.m.


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