Council approves tuition increases for Kentucky higher ed

family foundation calls for audit of cpe

ctruman@herald-leader.comApril 29, 2011 

The Council on Postsecondary Education on Thursday approved tuition and fee increases of 4, 5 and 6 percent for Kentucky's three levels of higher education institutions.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System will be able to raise tuition and fees a maximum of 4 percent, the six comprehensive universities a maximum of 5 percent and the two research universities — the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville — 6 percent.

The comprehensive institutions are Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.

Council spokeswoman Sue Patrick said the council's board considered the impact of tuition increases.

"No one wants to raise tuition, and we don't take this role lightly," she said. "... We have been in discussions with campus leadership, student government reps, our CPE members and others for quite some time."

Council officials said the tuition increases would partly offset cuts in state funding, including a $9.9 million reduction in funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Also on Thursday, the Family Foundation of Kentucky called for state Auditor Crit Luallen to review the operations of the council because of the public college tuition increases it allows.

Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Luallen's office, said that the office received the Family Foundation's request on Thursday afternoon.

"Once we've had a chance to thoroughly review it, we will make our decision," he said.

Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst with the Family Foundation, said in a letter requesting the audit that the council's action in approving tuition increases "that, in some cases, are almost three times the rate of inflation, raises the serious question of whether the CPE is adequately doing its job in keeping higher education affordable for Kentuckians."

Robert King, president of the CPE, which coordinates the activities of the state's public universities, said that he had offered to discuss the council's reasoning with Cothran.

"I offered ... to take him through all the data we consider," King said. "But if Crit Luallen or her staff wants to examine what we looked at or how we made our decision, we have nothing to hide."

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