Tuition at Kansas State University will increase again next year, but the rate of increase depends on the Kansas Legislature’s decision regarding a cost of living adjustment with the state budget.
In the last Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee meeting of the semester Tuesday evening, Ethan Erickson, assistant vice president of budget planning, presented two scenarios based on whether the Legislature includes a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment in the state budget and other expected increases in expenses.
“Ultimately, all we’re doing in the tuition proposal is accounting for increased operating costs next year,” Erickson said. “That’s the bare bones tuition rates that we’re proposing for next year at this point.”
If the Legislature decides to include an adjustment in the budget, tuition at K-State will increase by 3.7 percent. If not, the increase will clock in at 2.1 percent.
With privilege fee increases factored in, undergraduate resident students taking 15 credit hours will pay $202.50 more per semester under the 3.7 percent increase. If the Legislature does not include an adjustment, undergraduate resident students will pay $127.50 more. For non-resident undergraduates, this amounts to increases of $489 or $289.50, respective to the Legislature’s decision.
The tuition increase is based on other increased university expenses, including the share of health insurance costs the university must pay for, as dictated by the state. However, university employees may not see much benefit from the increased fringe rates.
“What we’re doing is meeting what the state has set for benefits that employers pay,” said Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance. “We’re not even talking about what employees pay because employees have seen declines in their net pay because they have to pay more for their health insurance. So, what we’re doing is funding the bare minimum, and depending on what the state decides what happens with the salary, it may not improve at all employees’ standard of living.”
Increases in expenditures focused on increasing the budget for scholarships and the recruitment of out-of-state students will also influence the tuition rate increase. The increased spending aims to increase enrollment, thereby increasing tuition revenue.
“If you think about it in terms of increasing our enrollment, that benefits us as well,” said Jordan Kiehl, committee chair and senior in industrial engineering. “The money that we’re putting in now will hopefully return in the amount of students we can bring back.”
Last year, tuition increased by only 1.1 percent, the lowest increase since 1989.
Bontrager said the Legislature will likely make a decision regarding cost of living adjustments by early next week.