University of Kentucky raises tuition 3 percent; smallest increase since 1997

lblackford@herald-leader.comMarch 19, 2013 

The University of Kentucky will raise tuition 3 percent for in-state undergraduate and graduate students in the next school year, the smallest increase since 1997 at a school where tuition has jumped 154 percent since 2002.

The average in-state undergraduate student will pay $10,110 in the 2013-14 school year, the first time annual tuition has topped $10,000.

Tuition for out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students will increase 6 percent, bringing the average tuition for an undergraduate to $21,203. However, the schools of pharmacy, medicine and dentistry will hold the tuition increase for out-of-state graduate students to 3 percent because of competitive pressure.

Housing costs also will go up 3 percent for regular dorm housing and 4 percent for premium housing. A traditional double-occupancy dorm room will cost $2,323 a semester. A premium double-occupancy room will cost $3,325 a semester.

The UK Board of Trustees approved the plan Tuesday without discussion. It now goes to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for final approval.

The move reflects a promise that President Eli Capilouto made to students last year, when UK was planning its two-year budget. That budget had a $43 million hole caused by declines in state revenue and other costs, and it included campus-wide cuts and layoff of about 1 percent of the workforce — the first widespread layoffs in recent history.

Capilouto said the pain would allow him to curb tuition increases, a move that was also helped by UK's largest incoming class, which produced more tuition revenue than expected.

He also has pledged a 5 percent merit pool salary increase for faculty and staff, but the Board of Trustees will not considered that until June.

Capilouto said the smaller tuition increase was an effort to put students first.

"One important way that manifests itself is in our efforts to create a high-quality learning environment that is more affordable and accessible to more Kentucky families," he said.

Board of Trustees Chairman Britt Brockman said the board was trying to reach a balance between helping Kentucky families and dealing with decreased state funding.

"Our goal would be to keep it (tuition increases) in this range," he said. "We want to be creative and keep costs low."

Stephen Bilas, the student trustee on the board, said he was glad that the promised 3 percent increase had happened.

"It's definitely a challenging time for us," Bilas said. "But students can see things happening on campus. ... We're starting to get more bang for our buck."

Among the changes on campus are new residence halls, the first of which will be open in August.

On Tuesday, the board gave final approval to three new construction projects on campus: a $65 million renovation and expansion of the Gatton School of Business and Economics, a $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and other football facilities, and a $100 million science building to replace the aging chemistry/physics building on Rose Street. The debt issued for the stadium and science building will be mostly paid by the athletics department.

The Gatton project will be mostly paid for with private donations; the school has raised $34 million so far. UK announced nearly $15 million of that amount Tuesday.

The board accepted pledges of $5 million each from Lexington car dealer Don Jacobs Sr. and Howard Lewis of Solon, Ohio, the founder and CEO of Family Heritage Life Insurance Co. of America. William Seale, who earned three degrees from UK, pledged $4 million to the renovation. Lexington Realtor Tim Haymaker pledged $500,000.

Trustee Frank Shoop praised the construction planning process, in which UK and other universities planned specific projects that they could pay for with their own money rather than using state General Fund money. The General Assembly gave enthusiastic approval of the selected projects in February.

"This thing really took steam early, and a lot of people worked on this and got it done," Shoop said. "It was one of the best-orchestrated things I've ever seen."

Other news

The UK board also approved awarding four University Research Professorships, worth $40,000 each, for research in the next academic year. Recipients are Bernhard Hennig, an agriculture professor working on nutrition and cardiovascular disease; Wolfgang Korsch, a physics professor working on nuclear physics and the structure of nucleons; Mark Lovell, a chemistry professor working on a potential test for Alzheimer's disease; and Zhongwei Shen, a math professor who researches homogenization theory.

The board also approved three honorary doctorates to be awarded at commencement on May 5. They will be given to:

■ Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, who was the lead investigator of the 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191 and who became close to many victims' families in Lexington.

■ Jamal Mashburn, a former UK basketball player who became a successful businessman and philanthropist.

■ Robert Milton Huffaker, a Wayne County native and UK alum who worked at NASA for many years before founding a company to develop Doppler laser technology for weather and military applications.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359. Twitter: @lbblackford.

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