Rising costs of higher education linger on students’ minds


The start of a new semester does not just mean new classes, it also means a new tuition bill. And for most young adults, college tuition is one of the first major expenses they encounter.

Many students, including Christina Chappell, freshman in English, rely on scholarships and loans to cover expenses stemming from tuition, course fees, books, housing, food and various other costs.

“I’m lucky to have enough scholarships that cover most of the costs,” Chappell said. “I don’t pay much out of pocket, so it doesn’t affect me much, but I know that rising costs matter. I might not see the effects of it as much, but I care about any increase in costs because they affect all students, really.”

In Manhattan, in-state undergraduate students pay a rate of $300.40 of tuition per credit hour this semester, while out-of-state students pay more than double at a rate of $797.10. In-state students pay a reduced cost because the university receives funding from the state government, which allocates those funds from taxes paid by Kansas residents.

Last year, the Collegian reported on Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to cut $17 million from funding to state universities due to a $53 million deficit in projected February revenues. As a result, K-State received a cut of $4.9 million in March.

In May, the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee voted to propose a 5 percent increase in student tuition to help offset the decreased funding from the state.

As previously reported by the Collegian, tuition increases had originally been capped at 3.8 percent per year on the condition that state funding to universities remains constant. The cap was repealed in early May; in June, the Kansas Board of Regents voted to approve a tuition rate increase of 5.8 percent at K-State for fiscal year 2017.

Students struggle with costs

On campus, students have expressed concern with the yearly increases in tuition and fees, but have also said the effects of increased tuition are not always visible.

“Tuition is definitely a big and growing cost,” Wyatt Vandepol, sophomore in industrial engineering, said. “There’s a lot of fees that just sort of pop up, like fees for classes in the College of Engineering, and other expenses, like housing and food. The costs of college don’t really concern me too much, but I know that I have to give a little bit of thought to it. As long as I’m careful with my money, I think I’ll be alright.”

Rachel Stark, freshman in open option, said her college expenses are not a major point of concern for her, even thought she knows other students struggle with affording the cost of attendance.

“It costs more to go to college, and that makes it harder for people that want to get an education to get one,” Stark said. “For expenses during the year, I put a certain amount of money in my checking account, and I try to stick to it. I also try to save some money for school expenses, like books or flash drives. It is difficult, especially since you don’t know how many expenses you really have to deal with as a freshman.”

Earlier this month, Brownback challenged state universities to offer bachelor degrees for less than $15,000 in his State of the State Address. In a Kansas Senate education committee meeting Tuesday, Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Board of Regents, said it was not possible to meet that challenge if the figure were to include all of the extraneous costs of college, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Brownback’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which includes the next school year, was released Jan. 11 and if approved as it stands, it would cut $2 million of funding from K-State.

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at news@kstatecollegian.com.