The Kansas Board of Regents approved requests to increase tuition rates from universities across Kansas, in response to Kansas legislators cutting the budget to higher education funding.
K-State tuition rates will rise 5.8 percent for fiscal year 2017.
Jeffrey Morris, vice president for communications and marketing at K-State, said the university submitted a proposed tuition rate increase as it does every year, but had to revise that when cuts were deeper than expected.
“The university originally asked for a 5 percent increase to cover budget cuts from last year and construction projects across campus, among other things,” Morris said.
When Gov. Sam Brownback announced that the state would be cutting more from higher education funding than originally expected, many universities revised their original proposals.
“State revenue hasn’t met projections, so the state has to take money from somewhere,” Morris said. “Sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s someone else. This time it was us.”
Morris said the university’s choice to further increase tuition was tough, but necessary.
“We would prefer not to raise tuition – we want to keep education as affordable and accessible as possible,” he said. “However, K-State is also committed to keeping up the quality of our education, which costs money.”
Morris also pointed out that rising tuition is a national trend, and that K-State was “still competitive with the schools and states around us” in terms of tuition costs.
“It’s important for students to know that the university understands that tuition increases make things more difficult for the students,” Morris said.
Jessica Van Ranken, senior in political science and K-State student body president, said the increase is “an unfortunate reality.” When facing budget cuts, she said universities have to find alternative ways to cover costs.
“(K-State) tried to find ways to cover budget cuts without raising tuition, but it was the only option unfortunately,” she said.
Van Ranken said she thinks the budget cuts imposed by Kansas legislation will affect the state as a whole.
“Since tuition is rising in schools across the state, I think Kansas education in general will be impacted,” Van Ranken said. “Better education means a better economy, and if our students are losing out on that education, the state is going to lose out as well.”
Kansas Democratic Sen. Tom Hawk expressed his discontent with the budget cuts.
“Higher education cuts are devastating,” Hawk said. “I’m frustrated with the legislation and governor for the situation they got the Kansas budget in.”
Hawk went on to explain what he believes to be the cause of higher education funding cuts: “cascading mismanagement.”
“There’s been a host of things mismanaged with the Kansas budget, and past budget cuts caused a waterfall effect that has lead to more and more cuts, including the cuts for higher education,” Hawk said.
Hawk also said he believes rising tuition costs could be detrimental to the state of Kansas.
“It hurts the economic viability of the state,” Hawk said. “If you end up pricing people out of the market, at some point they’re not going to look at coming to Kansas for their college education.”
Hawk said the best way for students to combat rising tuition is to let their voices be heard.
“When you look at voter demographic statistics, you’ll find that young people vote less than any other demographic,” Hawk said. “If students want to fix this problem, or any other problem, they need to speak up.”