Kentucky’s public universities and colleges will be limited to tuition increases that range between 4.6 percent and 6.1 percent next school year for in-state undergraduate students, the Council on Postsecondary Education decided Tuesday.
The state’s two research universities, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, can increase tuition no more than 5 percent this fall. The state’s regional universities received a “common dollar increase” of $432 annually. That means Western Kentucky University will see the smallest tuition change, at 4.65 percent, while Kentucky State University’s tuition will go up 5.9 percent.
Council members approved a $9 per credit hour ceiling for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is about a 6.1 percent change.
The council also approved a proposal by Murray State University that would raise the average tuition by 5.7 percent, but first-time freshmen and new transfer students would pay 10.4 percent more than last year. Tuition for all returning students would go up by no more than 5 percent.
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The tuition increases will not generate enough money to offset state funding cuts of 4.5 percent over the next two years, council officials said. When considering increases in fixed costs, the eight universities and KCTCS face an average decline of 10.2 percent, or $64.8 million, in the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to council officials.
In addition, Gov. Matt Bevin cut university budgets by 2 percent in the current fiscal year, though Attorney General Andy Beshear has challenged Bevin’s authority to make the cut in Franklin Circuit Court.
“While it is always difficult to ask our students and families to pay more for college, these new ceilings attempt to balance our students’ ability to pay for college and the significant budget challenges facing our campuses,” CPE President Bob King said after the meeting.
In other action, the Council adopted a new policy that requires campuses to generate enough tuition and fees from out-of-state students to equal or exceed the cost of instructing and serving those students. Currently, out-of-state tuition must double in-state tuition rates, but council officials said many schools lure out-of-state students with significant financial aid, which lowers their net tuition and fees.
Last fall, 37 percent of UK’s students were from out of state.
“We appreciate the council moving forward quickly to set tuition parameters,” said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. “We are in the process now of formulating a budget proposal that will be taken to the board of trustees in June for its consideration. While still too early to speculate on a specific proposal, our goal remains, as it has for the last several years, to work toward moderate increases in tuition — along with a robust scholarship and financial aid program — that will ensure continued affordable access for Kentuckians, while maintaining academic quality.”
After a round of double-digit tuition increases in the early 2000s, CPE began setting tuition increase limits in 2009, at about the same time state funding dropped dramatically following the 2008 recession.
“More tuition hikes are the inevitable fallout of cuts in funding made by the General Assembly,” said Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “Year after year of tuition hikes are showing up in higher student debt and a growing number of students for whom cost is the barrier to pursuing or completing a degree.”
Universities must submit their tuition and fee proposals to the council at its June 3 meeting in Barbourville.
Maximum tuition increases
2015-2016 Tuition (in-state, undergraduate)
2016-2017 Tuition with Maximum Increase
U of L
$147 per credit hour
*Murray State received permission to charge freshmen students a 10.4 percent increase in tuition. All other students would pay a 5 percent increase. The overall increase to all students is 5.7 percent.