The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees overrode opposition from some of its members Tuesday and voted to raise tuition by 5 percent, the maximum allowed under a state cap.
This fall, UK's in-state underclassmen (freshmen, sophomores) will pay $4,061.50 a semester in tuition and fees, up from $3,868 this school year. Tuition and fees for out-of-state underclassmen will rise from $7,942 to $8,339 a semester.
UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. urged trustees to approve the increases, saying they were necessary to maintain education quality in hard economic times and to keep the school on course to become a Top 20 research university.
But sharp opposition came from Dr. Charles Sachatello, a board member and former professor of surgery at UK, who argued that the university and the state should find ways to save money before raising costs for students.
"No one in this room can possibly believe that a yes vote will solve the projected budget shortfall," Sacha tello declared. "Within six to nine months this board will be faced with an additional shortfall as state revenue projections will simply not materialize."
Sachatello urged university students all across Kentucky to create a Web site called "No Kentucky Tuition Increase" and send a message to Gov. Steve Beshear and the General Assembly: "You are cheating the future of Kentucky by forcing a tuition increase on my family and me."
Sachatello said the necktie he was wearing had been given to him by the university and probably cost $100. He said a report given to trustees Monday was in a heavy booklet that probably cost $25. Such expenditures are "absurd," he declared, and are examples of savings that could be realized.
He said afterward that he didn't expect much support from other board members and was only trying to send a message that the pain of the current financial crunch should be shared more equally.
The tuition boost ultimately passed over the "no" votes of Sachatello, Russ Williams and Erwin Roberts.
Trustee Jo Hern Curris said she was "reluctant" to vote for the increase, but added, "I do not see that we have any other choice."
Ernest Yanarella, one of the board's faculty representatives, said he was voting for the boost, but cautioned there was an "enormous amount of restiveness" across the UK campus. Faculty members are facing the possibility of seeing no salary increases for a second straight year, he noted.
The other faculty trustee, Everett McCorvey, also voted for the increase, but said the state must provide more financial help.
"If they want us to be a Top 20 university, they have to come to the table and help us get there," he said.
Todd, meanwhile, said UK had worked hard to cut costs and urged employees to keep working hard during the downturn while the university looks for more financial support.
"We have to continue to demand money for this institution, which we will do," he said.
Nevertheless, random interviews Tuesday afternoon suggest the increased tuition won't go over well with students.
"I don't understand why it keeps going on up," said Toi Renee Foster, a freshman from Louisville. "It already costs an arm and a leg to get by."
Foster and her friend, Brystol Stott, also of Louisville, questioned how UK could afford to put new signs around campus if finances are so tight.
Charles Blanford, a freshman from Bardstown, said higher tuition will mean a greater financial burden for his parents next year.
"It's expensive enough right now," he said.
The 5 percent tuition increase is the maximum allowed for UK under caps set last week by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.