Regents weigh smaller tuition hikes, fee for YMCA on WSU campus

Students at state universities in Kansas could see their tuition increase this school year, but not nearly as much as in recent years.

The Kansas Board of Regents plans to vote Thursday on proposed 2017-18 tuition increases ranging from 2.5 percent to 3 percent at the six regents universities: Emporia State, Fort Hays State, the University of Kansas, Kansas State, Pittsburg State and Wichita State.

WSU students would pay 2.5 percent more in tuition per semester under the university’s tuition proposal. That would cost $79.80 more for in-state, full-time undergraduate students and $86.16 for in-state, full-time graduate students.

The increase is estimated to generate $2.2 million in revenue for WSU.

The regents will also consider WSU’s request to levy a new $95 fee on students for a proposed YMCA and health and wellness center on its Innovation Campus. The center would include workout facilities, a health clinic, counseling and testing services and a drop-in day care center.

WSU President John Bardo told regents the expansion of wellness services on campus will improve students’ physical and mental health.

“This is about, at the end of the day, putting together a package that should help our retention,” Bardo said.

In March, the university and the Greater Wichita YMCA announced they were in advanced discussions to build a YMCA on the Innovation Campus.

WSU’s new student government narrowly voted last month to support the increase, reversing course from the previous government that widely rejected a per credit hour increase in March.

The board received about 800 student signatures in a petition against the fee, according to minutes from a previous regents meeting. Students opposed to the fee contend that the administration forced the idea on the student body on a rushed timetable and did not listen to student concerns.

WSU’s fee proposal includes an intercollegiate athletic fee increase but lower student services fees for many students. Overall, the university says in its proposal, an undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours would pay $18.55 more in student fees, which is about a 2.5 percent increase.

Elsewhere, KU students would see a 2.5 percent increase for standard tuition. And K-State students would pay 3 percent more in tuition.

Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State requested increases of 2.8 percent, 2.8 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Last June, the regents approved increases ranging from 4.9 to 6 percent for the 2016-17 year. The $36 million in total tuition increases for universities across the state came after Gov. Sam Brownback announced cuts to higher education last year.

Some regents expressed interest in getting the tuition increases closer to 2 percent.

“Sometime, we have to stop the runaway train on tuition and fee increases,” said regent Bill Feuerborn.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar