TOPEKA — State universities have proposed tuition and fee increases between 4.1 and 8.2 percent for in-state students this fall. A Wichita State University student taking 15 credit hours could see tuition and fees per semester increase $211.50, or 7.7 percent, from the current $2,733.50 to $2,945.00.
Out-of-state students will pay even more.
The proposed increase includes no frills for the school, said WSU President Donald Beggs.
"It is just covering the basic costs of doing business in order not to have to cut your budget more," he said.
But for students such as junior-to-be Melisha Regier, a $211 increase will cut into an already tight budget. It is almost exactly her share of one month's rent, she said.
"I have to get my education so I can get a good job, so I just kind of have to deal with it," she said.
This year, Regier is moving out of her parents' house near Peabody to a shared apartment in Wichita and is taking over all of her tuition and expenses. She is trying to plan what her monthly expenses will be.
To pay for her education, the 19-year-old, who is studying communications at Wichita State, is sorting out financial aid and works 30 hours a week selling cell phones and cell phone packages in addition to carrying a full course load at school.
She anticipated that tuition increases would make her more driven at work so her commission check was larger, Regier said.
"In the next couple of years I plan on cramming in a few extra classes, because if tuition goes up I will have saved some extra money," she added.
The Kansas Board of Regents will make its final decision on the proposed increases at its June 23-24 board meeting. Last year, universities lowered their tuition increases after the board expressed discontent with the initial proposals.
This year, Kansas State University proposed a 7.4 percent, or $253.25, increase in tuition and fees, bringing the cost of a semester to $3,688, up from $3,434.75.
The University of Kansas sought the largest increase at 8.2 percent, or $305.60. That will bring the cost of being a Jayhawk to $4,012.45 in tuition and fees a semester, up from $3,706.85.
In 2007, KU began a separate tuition program for incoming freshmen. The Compact Tuition Rates allow students to pay a higher rate than the standard tuition, but the rate — proposed at $4,366.45 for fall 2010 — is locked in for four years.
"The tuition compact allows families to plan ahead with confidence. Additionally, 45 percent of KU undergraduates will see no increase in tuition this year" because of the compact, said university spokeswoman Jill Jess.
Beggs said WSU is using $1.5 million in federal stimulus money to offset the tuition increases by giving all Kansas students a scholarship of $5.50 per credit hour — so in-state students will see a tuition increase of $2 a credit hour instead of the proposed $7.50.
Neither Beggs nor Jess said that tuition increases being finalized in June — after students have left for the summer — would cause problems in the financial aid packages the schools developed.
Beggs noted the system is built around tuition increases being decided in June. "You anticipate an increase; you just never know what it is," he said.
Jess said the financial aid packages are developed using a formula that is adjusted after the final tuition rates are approved.
KU also is using federal stimulus money to help offset tuition increases for some students. The school will use about $2.5 million this spring for Jayhawk Assistance Grants, which will give 2,026 students with the most unmet financial needs $1,000 grants each.
The other proposed tuition and fee increases are:
* Emporia State University, $131 or 6 percent, to $2,318 up from $2,187
* Pittsburg State University, $128 or 5.6 percent, to $2,424 up from $2,296
* Fort Hays State University, $77.25 or 4.1 percent, to $1,958.25 up from $1,881.