KU seeking 3.5% increase in tuition for next school year; all Regents universities proposing tuition hikes

The University of Kansas is on pace to have its highest enrollment ever when classes resume next fall, but despite those big numbers, KU leaders are still seeking a tuition increase to fund university operations.

KU — along with every other public university in the state — is seeking approval from the Kansas Board of Regents for a tuition increase for the 2024-2025 school year.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Regents, KU will seek preliminary approval of a 3.5% tuition increase, according to documents filed with the Regents ahead of the meeting. If approved, it would be the second consecutive year of increasing tuition at the university. Regents approved a 5% tuition increase for the 2023-2024 school year.

KU’s full tuition proposal wasn’t made immediately available to the Journal-World, so additional details about fees KU may be seeking to increase weren’t available. Neither was KU’s specific reasons for seeking the request.

One reason that is not likely to be the case is declining enrollment. In a recent video message to the campus community, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said KU had a good chance of setting a new record for enrollment. If you recall, KU’s attracted its largest freshman class ever last school year, following changes in how KU goes about recruitment.

“Yet to see what it will look like in the fall, but we are tracking very strong,” Girod said of preliminary enrollment figures. “Potentially the highest enrollment of all time, if things play out the way they look.”

One wildcard with those potentially big numbers is student aid problems. The FAFSA process — Free Application for Federal Student Aid — has been creating delays across the country for families waiting to hear back on how much student aid their students qualify for at particular universities. The federal government redesigned the form, and as Girod noted, there is a “problem of that process not actually working.”

Students and their families have had difficulties submitting the FAFSA form, which means universities have been delayed in receiving the student financial data that the schools use in making financial offers to students.

“We are going to be very delayed in getting financial aid information out to students,” Girod said in the KU video earlier this month.

That leaves students knowing just half the equation as they prepare for the next school year. It appears likely that tuition costs are increasing, but it is still unknown whether their financial aid amounts will follow suit.

The tuition numbers submitted to Regents, though, show that KU isn’t seeking the largest increase in tuition rates. Here’s a look at the other proposed tuition increases for the public universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents:

• Fort Hays State: 6.0% increase

• Emporia State: 4.0% increase

• Wichita State: 3.9% increase

• Pittsburg State: 3.5% increase

• Kansas State: 2.8% increase

One selling point KU has with tuition is that the university did forego a tuition increase for four consecutive years before implementing the 5% increase a year ago. KU was the only Regents university to go four consecutive years without an increase.

Regents, who are appointed by the governor, have been putting pressure on the state’s public universities to hold tuition rates down. Specifically, they have argued that rising tuition rates make it tougher for state legislators to justify providing additional state funding to universities. In fiscal year 2023 — following big funding increases by the Kansas Legislature — all of the state’s Regents universities held tuition rates flat.

But despite state lawmakers continuing to provide solid amounts of state funding, universities are now seeking their largest tuition increases this decade. Last year, every Regents universities increased tuition by 5% or more. Here’s a look at the combined tuition increases of the last two years, if the Regents ultimately approve the most recent requests from universities.

• Kansas State: 7.8%

• KU: 8.5%

• Pittsburg State: 8.5%

• Emporia State: 9.0%

• Wichita State: 9.8%

• Fort Hays State: 13.0%

Specific reasons for the most recent tuition requests weren’t available for each school, given that their complete tuition proposals hadn’t yet been made public by the Regents. However, in a memo to Regents, the vice president of finance for the Regents system noted that the rate of inflation had been high for universities recently. However, many of the requested tuition increases are outpacing recent inflation figures. In April, the Higher Education Price Index projected 2024 inflation for universities to run at 3.0% for the year.

Regents were told in a memo that universities are seeking higher tuition rates to support a variety of initiatives, including: retaining and hiring faculty; increasing student aid awards; making investments in cybersecurity; increased costs for academic advising; and greater efforts in student recruitment.

Regents at their Wednesday meeting in Topeka are not being asked to give final approval to the tuition increases. Instead, Regents have it on their agenda for a preliminary hearing. Final approval would be expected at the Regents meeting in June.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.