K-State proposed 5 percent tuition hike ‘very likely’ to gain approval

Graphic by Iris LoCoco | The Collegian

This week, K-State will seek permission from the Kansas Board of Regents to raise tuition by 5 percent for the upcoming academic year, fiscal year 2015. According to the agenda for this week’s board meeting, if approved, the proposed increase would raise tuition by $196.50 per semester for resident undergraduates taking 15 hours, or $519 per semester for non-resident undergraduates taking 15 hours.

Breeze Richardson, associate director of communications and government relations for the Kansas Board of Regents, said that the proposal is “very likely” to be adopted.

Pat Bosco, vice president of student life, said the student-led Tuition Strategies Committee was tasked to make recommendations to President Kirk Schulz regarding the tuition increase.

“They understand in the onset that there is going to be a tuition increase, but they get to recommend how much, where it goes and who pays,” Bosco said. “They began their discussion about nine months ago centered around the university’s highest needs and how much a typical K-State student (can) afford to pay in additional tuition.”

Bosco said this committee helps make proposing tuition increases a balancing act.

“We have millions and millions of dollars of need, but it can’t be funded on the backs of a tuition increase for our students,” Bosco said. “Everyone understands that.”

What K-State is doing to help

To help offset the increase, Bosco said the plan to increase tuition also includes an increase in scholarship dollars and need-based assistance to help those in “high need.”

“We can’t help them all,” Bosco said. “But, in the plan, it does give us an opportunity to respond to as many students as we possibly can.”

Larry Moeder, director of admissions and student financial assistance, said there has also been an increase in scholarship funds raised from donors to specific programs campuswide. He also said that the K-State Foundation is experiencing a record increase in donor gifts, though the Foundation does not release final numbers until July.

“I think we’ve been somewhat fortunate that there are additional scholarship dollars that have been raised by donors to help needy students that are doing well academically,” Moeder said.

Moeder said students do not seem to realize that every student can obtain some form of financial aid. Whether in the form of federal student loans, scholarships, grants or from private sources such as family and friends, Moeder said every single student qualifies for something. However, once students are actually at K-State, Moeder said they often stop looking, particularly for scholarships.

“The search for scholarships should be a continuing process for every single student,” Moeder said.

Comparison of proposals

According to the tuition increase proposals on the regents’ website, K-State is hardly unique among regents universities in how much university presidents are requesting to raise tuition. All six regents universities are proposing tuition increases of between 2.7 percent (in the case of Fort Hays State University) and 5 percent (in the case of K-State).

Like K-State, other regents universities are also seeking to help students cope with the tuition increases.

Pittsburg State President Steve Scott said his university is requesting a 4.8 percent tuition increase for its undergraduate students. To offset this, Pittsburg State has also increased its scholarship raising efforts.

“We’ve been very aggressive in raising money for scholarships,” Scott said. “We think one of the best ways we can mitigate tuition increases is by being very aggressive in adding new scholarships.”

The University of Kansas is taking a similar approach to help students manage their proposed increases, said Jack Martin, director of strategic communications at KU.

“The scholarships and financial aid are a huge part of our funding campaign right now,” Martin said.

Martin said the meeting at which these tuition increases will be proposed is scheduled for today and tomorrow, with the actual increases on the agenda for today.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.