KU proposes no increase for food and housing rates in 2021-2022

photo by: Screenshot/Kansas Board of Regents

A screenshot of the Nov. 18 Kansas Board of Regents meeting.

None of Kansas’ six public universities are proposing an increase for food or housing costs in the next academic year, which will make it the second year in a row the University of Kansas has not had an increase.

At a virtual meeting Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents took a first look at Kansas public universities’ food and housing rates for the 2021-2022 academic year. For a double-occupancy room and limited dining option, KU is once again proposing a price of $9,700. That price is actually a 0.7% decrease in price from the 2019-2020 school year.

In its rate proposal, KU said that “rates have been held flat to acknowledge that financial hardship of families and students due to the impact of COVID-19.”

Here’s how KU’s proposed rates compare to those of the other five public universities:

• Pittsburg State University: $7,956

• Fort Hays State University: $8,182

• Emporia State University: $9,156

• Kansas State University: $9,480

• University of Kansas: $9,700

• Wichita State University: $11,180

KU’s report also shared information about this year’s housing occupancy rates. Prior to the pandemic, KU anticipated that 5,000 students would live in student housing this academic year. But due to decreased student enrollment and more students choosing to complete coursework from their permanent residency due to the pandemic, only 4,013 students are living in student housing. That’s about a 20% decrease.

The report also noted that in the spring of 2020, KU returned approximately $5.8 million to students after suspending in-person classes – money that accounted spring housing charges for about six weeks of the spring semester. KU gave $3.3 million to Student Housing’s budget through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to offset the impact of that loss.

According to a financial page in the report, there is an estimated $4 million loss for KU Housing and Dining this academic year, which is projected to leave a little more than $1 million in its cash reserves. In the previous two years, KU Housing and Dining had over $5.5 million in cash reserves.

In his CEO update, KU chancellor Douglas Girod said he expects the spring semester to look similar to the fall. He said he believes KU has completed the “proof-of-concept” that in-person education can be done safely.

“We’re not aware of any conduction of COVID in a classroom setting where all our policies have been followed,” Girod said. “So I do hope that we’ll see more extensive face to face activity in the spring.”

Other news from the meeting:

• The Regents approved The University of Kansas Medical Center’s request to amend its Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan to include a $11.6 million project. The Clinical and Translation Science Unity (CTSU) project would provide a centrally-located facility for the KUMC campus to conduct clinical research trials. It would also “enhance the ability to study, research, and create new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and beyond,” the proposal stated. The total cost of the project would be $11,658,844, and it would be funded from private gifts or other sources.

• The Regents approved KU’s request for a Master of Engineering in Bioengineering as well as an online Bachelor of Health Sciences through the Edwards Campus’ School of Professional Studies.

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