Governor Kelly’s budget proposal recommends a tuition freeze

(Archive photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

In Governor Laura Kelly’s fiscal year 2023 budget report, she granted the Kansas Board of Regents’ request of $45.7 million to freeze tuition at the six state universities.

“We are thrilled that the budget includes that funding,” Kansas Board of Regents Chair Cheryl Harrison-Lee said. “This represents the largest amount of funding that the Regents have received in the history of requesting funding from a governor’s budget recommendation.”

Harrison-Lee said the amount of funding is important for another reason.

“This is unprecedented,” Harrison-Lee said. “In the past, we’ve received less than what we requested, so this is important to the Regents because we think it shows a significant commitment to higher education.”

In Kelly’s State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 11, she said the tuition freeze would help young people in the state.

“This pandemic has created so many strains, so many stressors and so many challenges. We simply cannot let it derail the careers or the dreams of our young people,” Kelly said in her address.

According to Kelly’s report, Kansas State was the only institution of the six state universities to raise the tuition rate for undergraduate resident students in fiscal year 2022. K-State increased the amount by 1.2 percent.

Along with funding for the tuition freeze, Kelly’s recommendation earmarks $25 million for the Kansas Access Partnership Grant to be matched by private resources. The grant is need-based and helps families with the cost of college.

In an email from Matthew Keith, director of communications for the Regents, to the Collegian, he listed other items related to higher education in the recommendation.

Some of these include $25 million for facilities renewal at state universities, a five percent salary adjustment for state university employees totaling $24.1 million and $20 million for IT infrastructure at state universities.

The governor’s budget recommendation also includes $195 million for one-time university grants in the Commerce Department’s budget.

“If that item is included, universities will work with donors to develop proposals for state funding initiatives that have significant long-term economic benefits to the state, to be matched dollar for dollar by the universities with non-state money,” Keith wrote.

The next step for the budget recommendation is to pass the Kansas State Legislature.

“They’re balancing a lot of requests, a lot of priorities,” Harrison-Lee said. “We’re just hoping that higher education is one of those priorities that as they balance them, that we receive additional funding.”

Harrison-Lee said approval of the budget would help many students in higher education.

“It provides access and opportunities for those that might not be able to continue their higher ed if there were tuition increases, it helps those that are currently in school to be able to have a stable amount in terms of tuition for the next year,” Harrison-Lee said. “But it also allows us to look at economic development opportunities for the universities which actually helps out students.”

In the meantime, Harrison-Lee said the Regents appreciate the governor’s recommendation.

“The Regents are very happy and thankful of the governor’s support of higher ed, and we hope the legislature will also support that recommendation,” Harrison-Lee said.