College Tuition Hikes Approved

The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday to raise tuition and fees an average of 3.9% for full-time, in-state undergraduate students at the five state public universities requesting revenue enhancements from that source.

Members of the Board of Regents defended the increases by touting a report showing the result would be that raises to tuition and fees for resident undergraduates in the university system ranged from 4.4% to 22.2% since 2020. The national consumer price index, known as CPI-U, went up 22.5% from 2020 to 2024. The Higher Education Price Index, issued by Commonfund Institute, grew 15.7% over those years.

“We’re all aware of the need to keep higher education affordable, but also understand the pressure that inflationary factors are placing on every enterprise, including higher education,” said Blake Benson, a Board of Regents member from Pittsburg.

The Board of Regents released a document indicating overall state university tuition and fee increases for undergraduate in-state students over a five-year period, including the 2025 adjustments, would average 11.8%. Decisions of the Board of Regents pushed up tuition and fees through those years by 10% at University of Kansas, 7.5% at Kansas State University, 22.2% at Wichita State University, 4.4% at Emporia State University, 14.5% at Pittsburg State University and 12.4% at Fort Hays State University.

Wint Winter, a Lawrence member of the Board of Regents, said his support for the latest tuition and fee changes was influenced by action of the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly to expand student financial aid from $24 million annually to $97 million annually since 2021.

He said the six state universities also reduced operating costs during the past five years by $219 million and eliminated the equivalent of 675 full-time job positions.

“This is one of the most important and powerful decisions that this board has to make,” Winter said. “If you want to talk about net student financial load, I think the regents institutions, the governor and the Legislature have done a great job in the last five years in holding tuition down much below inflation.”

The average 3.9% adjustment this fall in state university tuition and fees reflected increases at five of the six state universities. Emporia State settled on a 3.4% reduction in tuition and fees attained by diminishing student fees and holding tuition flat.

In May, ESU administrators put forward a plan to raise tuition by 4%. That idea was dropped to zero before the Board of Regents convened for its June meeting. If ESU’s reduction in the combined tuition and fees figure was included in statistics covering all six universities, the average increase in tuition and fees at the universities would be 2.7%.

Enrollment at ESU spiraled the past couple years as administrators dismissed tenured faculty, realigned course offerings and sought to “right-size” the university in exchange for special funding from the Legislature. An extraordinary $9 million earmark that inflated state funding to ESU last year was renewed because the governor declined to veto for a second time during the 2024 legislative session a Republican-driven provision appropriating the $9 million in this year’s state spending bill.

Here are the per semester, full-time undergraduate tuition and fee rates for 2024-2025 and what those changes mean compared last year’s rates: KU, $6,141, up $291 or 5%; KSU, $5,610, up $139 or 2.5%; WSU, $4,841, up $180 or 3.9%; PSU, $4,200, up $122 or 3%; ESU, $3,547, down $125 or 3.4%; FHSU, $2,964, up $147 or 5.2%.

Nonresident undergraduate tuition and fees — there are a variety of programs to waive the out-of-state premium — were increased at the same five universities and reduced at ESU by 1.6% to $7,704.

Undergraduate students from other states attending KU would pay $15,306 per semester this fall, which would be a $600 increase of 4.1%. K-State intends to charge $14,283 for nonresident undergraduate students, an amount $375 or 2.7% greater than last fall. Here are the other figures: WSU, $9,994, up $374 or 3.9%; PSU, $9,872, up $122 or 1.3%; and FHSU, $8,888, up $482 or 5.7%.

The Board of Regents adopted comparable increases for graduate students that was sought by the universities and unanimously approved by the board’s fiscal affairs subcommittee.

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Story via Kansas Reflector

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash