Regents universities proposing tuition hikes

TOPEKA — Most students at Kansas' state universities would pay higher tuition next fall, with increases of up to 7.4 percent under proposals from the schools made public Wednesday.

The changes are designed to raise an additional $30 million for the six state universities and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. The new funds would help them cover rising utility and employee health insurance costs and other increasing expenses, and bolster academic programs.

Wichita State University proposes a 6 percent increase.

The Kansas Board of Regents released copies of the schools' proposals the day before their officials were scheduled to present them to the board, which oversees the universities and the state's community colleges and technical colleges. The board expects to vote on the proposals in June.

Board member Tim Emert of Independence said the proposals aren't surprising, given tight state budgets and rising costs. "Where else do we have to go?" he said.

The biggest increase in tuition would be paid by some non-Kansas undergraduates at the University of Kansas, who would see their rate rise by 7.4 percent, from $9,075 per semester to $9,750, a difference of $675. The figures are based on a full course load of 15 hours.

However, the state's largest university also has a program in which it freezes tuition for undergraduates who promise to graduate within four years. The rates for students entering into those agreements would not jump as much — 6.2 percent for Kansas students and 5.2 percent for non-Kansas students.

Undergraduates from Kansas who are not part of the program also would see their tuition rise this fall by 6.2 percent, or by $222, from $3,584 to $3,806.

Emporia State University proposes to increase its tuition by 6.9 percent for undergraduate and graduate students, whether they're from Kansas or not. The rate for Kansas undergraduates would jump from $1,807 a semester to $1,932, a $125 increase.

Both the University of Kansas and Kansas State University said in their proposals that they would use a portion of the new dollars raised for student scholarships.

"The two challenges are a lack of state funding and, then, how much can you increase the price of tuition and still make it affordable?" said regent Ed McKechnie of Arcadia. "We have a goal to have a quality education, but you can't price yourself out of the market."