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Kansas Board of Regents wants to again up tuition

Tuition at Kansas universities has been raised 55 percent since 2009 and the Kansas Board of Regents wants more.

The Board acknowledges they’re raising about $730 million from tuition under the current state budget vs. $468 million from tuition in fiscal 2009.

Now they’re asking to increase tuition again this fall even after legislators recently raised their overall state funding to levels not seen for a decade.

The six state universities and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City have submitted proposals to the state Board of Regents to increase tuition and required fees for undergraduate students from 1.2 percent to 3 percent. The regents are expected to vote on the proposals in June.

The request is causing some to raise their eyebrows.

Legislators recently added $15 million to the Kansas budget for the next fiscal year that begins in July. The current budget for universities is currently more than three-quarters-of-a-billion dollars–the most since 2009.

As universities continue to ask for more and more, they generally put the burden on students rather than tightening up their own budgets and priorities. The universities have come to rely more heavily on tuition dollars to finance their operations.

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

“This is terrible,” State Rep. Brandon Whipple, a Wichita Democrat tweeted, saying the tuition increases would hurt students and working families.

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod told the regents at their most recent meeting that the institution faces “a rapid increase in our fixed costs.”

“Faculty raises are not part of this conversation and staff raises are not part of this conversation,” he said.

The University of Kansas is proposing a 3 percent increase in tuition and required fees for undergraduates from Kansas on its Lawrence campus, making it $5,574 per semester. It is also abandoning a “compact” program that allowed incoming freshman to pay one, frozen rate for four years.

“It’s always about balancing affordability and quality,” spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said. “We want a KU education to be affordable for our students and families, but we also need to provide the level of education that people are going to expect from a research university like KU.”

More and more states are opting to hold down costs by changing the way they distribute higher education funding. Twenty-six states now at least partly fund colleges and universities based on performance measures, such as whether students graduated on time, and 10 more states are developing such funding formulas, according to an HCM Strategists report.

In a press release Kansas State University said this would be the smallest tuition increase in thirty years. The increase on its Manhattan campus would be 1.2 percent. The Kansas State Polytechnic campus in Salina would not have a tuition increase.

–Metro Voice and wire services


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