Restored funding’s effect on tuition remains to be seen until Regents meeting

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The effect of restored funding to higher education included in the state budget, which awaits approval from Gov. Laura Kelly, remains to be seen. (Sarah Millard | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State students may notice a change in tuition rates in the near future thanks to $4 million in restored funding from from the state.

The restored funding comes from the budget measure for fiscal year 2020, passed last weekend.

The funds given to K-State may be used either in supporting the operating budget or to support specific departments the legislature outlines, said Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance.

The operating budget includes benefit rate increases, faculty salary support and scholarships. The Legislature wants to see an increase in or improvement to departments such as K-State Polytechnic flight instruction, global food systems and the statewide forestry department. A set amount of the funding was allocated for these areas.

Bontrager said the funding will affect tuition, but can’t say much about it until a meeting with the Kansas Board of Regents on May 15 for a first reading of tuition proposals for the state universities, which will be followed up with the final vote on the tuition approvals at a June 19 meeting.

“We do hope we can keep the tuition increase at a more modest rate, closer to the cost of living rate — the consumer price index (CPI),” she said “We also hope that we continue to get more stable funding from the state.”

If Governor Laura Kelly approves the budget, universities, including K-State, will receive funding in July, the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year.

Preceding the budget proposal, the Kansas Board of Regents asked for an increase in higher education funding by $50 million. $33.4 million was appropriated to four year institutions, according to Bontrager. Though the amount given is smaller than the legislature requested, Bontrager said they are grateful for the increase in funds.

“I guess we put it in perspective of what we have seen in previous years and so yes, we’re very appreciative for what has happened in this budget year,” Bontrager said. “We know there’s a lot of need in the state and it’s the legislature’s job is to try to prioritize that.”

Bontrager said funding for higher education helps the state as a whole by preparing people to enter the work force.

“We do think that higher education brings value to the state and we are going to need continued support from the Kansas legislature in order to do several things — that is to help us keep our tuition at a more realistic cost and also to help us educate the work force for future jobs,” Bontrager said.

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Hi there! I’m Julie Freijat, a staff writer at the Collegian. I’m a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communications; I believe accessible and accurate information is critical for a healthy society. I love insects, I hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.