Regents keep WKU tuition steady, eliminate online fee for 2020-2021

The Board of Regents meet in a special session on May 27.

Leo Bertucci

The WKU Board of Regents voted unanimously to keep tuition at the current level for the coming year during a special meeting on Wednesday, and eliminated the extra fee for taking an online class in 2020-21.

“I understand that a lot of students may be sitting on the fence,” said Jason McKinney, the board’s vice chair. “I don’t want to give them any news about WKU making a decision for them whether or not they re-enroll, so I like keeping the tuition flat for this year.”

The board discussed two tuition proposals for the next school year. One proposal included a 2% increase in tuition while the other advocated keeping tuition at the current level of $5,401 for a full-time, in-state undergraduate student. The regents selected the flat tuition rate because it did not place further financial burden on students or their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Raising tuition would have brought in an extra $2.4 million for a university facing a $27.1 million deficit in 2020-21 — if, as some regents pointed out, it did not chase some students away.

Will Harris, the student regent, said that the university will impress students by keeping tuition rates steady because the action indicates WKU is caring for its students during the pandemic.

When evaluating the impact that the pandemic may have on the campus environment in the future, President Timothy Caboni advocated eliminating the online class fee of $150 per credit hour, or $450 for a typical three-hour course. Because of the pandemic, WKU anticipates that some courses normally offered in person will be available only online.

“If we are going to require students to take some courses online… is having the burden of a $450 additional fee automatically applied to them, is that fair? Is that what we want to do?” Caboni said. “What’s most important to us in the midst of this pandemic is their health and safety, and their continuation toward a degree at WKU.”

Eliminating the online fee for 2020-21 will cost WKU $4.15 in revenue, Executive Vice President Susan Howarth said. Of that, $2.5 million is already figured into the university’s deficit for the coming year, and the other $1.6 million will result in expenditure reductions in the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach, or DELO.

In other business, the board unanimously passed a discount for the Kentucky educator tuition rate for graduate students. The rate would be reduced from $415 to $350 per credit hour, according to Corinne Murphy, the dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

Murphy said she was fully confident in moving forward with the $350 rate because the program will be able to attract a larger number of students with a lower cost and has already surpassed its student enrollment target to cover the lost revenue.