The cost of going to college in Kansas went up again Wednesday when the state’s Board of Regents approved tuition increases at six public universities.
Regents said the increases were necessary because of legislative cuts in higher education funding.
“Since 2008, there has been a 13 percent decrease in state funding,” said Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka.
Regent Robba Moran of Hays expressed concern that the higher rates might cause some students to steer away from Kansas universities.
“Students have choices,” Moran said. “Every time we have to raise tuition, it hurts us.”
At Kansas State University, tuition and fees will go up 6.7 percent for full-time undergraduate students who are Kansas residents, to $4,292.70 per semester.
At the University of Kansas, tuition and fees will go up 4.4 percent to $4,638.80 per semester. But 65 percent of KU’s returning undergraduates, who locked in their four-yeartuition
rate as freshmen, won’t see any increase.
Tuition for Kansas residents at KU Medical Center is going up 7.3 percent, to $4,195. That amount doesn’t include fees.
The tuition and fee increases at the four other schools are 3 percent at Fort Hays State, 6.5 percent at Emporia State, 7.4 percent at Pittsburg State and 8.1 at Wichita State.
Regents had nearly two weeks to review proposed tuition increases requested by each of the universities after they learned earlier this month that legislators were imposing a 1.5 percent cut to higher education for 2014 and 2015. In addition, an overall $10 million chunk was cut out of salaries, and KU Medical Center is losing $8.3 million over two years.
Although tuition in Kansas is on the low end when compared to surrounding states, the Regents schools’ average tuition has jumped more than 155 percent over the last 12 years. That’s almost five times the 33 percent rate at which the country’s inflation rose during the same time. Meanwhile, state support to higher education has continued to shrink.
Both K-State and KU students are paying more to fund higher education than the state of Kansas is. Since 2011, nearly 60 percent of what it costs to educate a Kansas student at KU was paid for by tuition.
KU’s student body president, Marcus Tetwiler of Paola, praised the Regents, chancellors and university presidents for keeping student interests in mind when they set tuition rates.
“I recognize that it is out of their hands,” Tetwiler said. “I believe it is a legislative issue.”