Board of Regents discusses potential tuition increase

Herald Staff

Tuition will be increasing for WKU students in 2018-19, but the amount of the increase was up in the air after a Board of Regents meeting on Friday.

The administration initially proposed increasing tuition for full-time in-state students by 3 percent, to $5,256 a semester But regents asked the administration to consider a 4 percent increase – the maximum allowed for the coming year by the state Council on Postsecondary Education – to $5,305 a semester.

Several regents said the severity of WKU’s budget challenges mean the university should consider the maximum increase for 2018-19, which would cap the increase for 2019-20 at 2 percent, under state guidelines. The CPE is allowing a tuition increase for Kentucky universities of no more than 6 percentage points split over the coming two years.

A tuition increase of 4 percent would set the out-of-state rate, currently $12,756, at $13,226 per semester. For international students, tuition would increase from $13,080 a semester to $13,603.

“That discussion period was important because we had time to take a look at these,” President Timothy C. Caboni said. “The reason we were able to have a reasoned strategic conversation about the institution’s budget.”

Regents also asked the administration to consider not increasing the cost of online classes for full-time students. Currently, students must pay a fee of $100 per credit hour for online classes, in addition to their tuition. The administration recommended increasing that fee to $150 per credit hour – raising the additional cost of a three-hour online class by 50 percent, to $450 from $300.

Regent George Nichols also urged the administration in future years to bring budget recommendations to the board earlier so members could have more time to study options. Caboni noted that he was presenting budget information in May of his first year as president and intended to get the information into regents’ hands as early as possible. In the past, regents did not receive budget information until mid-June.

In addition to the tuition discussion, Student Regent Andi Dahmer raised concerns about WKU’s fees systems, and asked Caboni when the university was going to undertake a promised examination of how fees are assessed and disbursed.

In addition to tuition, most full-time students at WKU pay $380 a semester in mandatory fees, in addition to a wide variety of college- and class-related fees and the surcharge for online courses. 

Caboni said that study would be done in the coming months. 

“One of the things we have to make sure we’re doing is helping student and families understand in as simple a way as we can, helping them understand how much higher education costs,” Caboni said. “And we need to do everything on our part to keep those costs down.”

The regents will meet again June 22 to vote on WKU’s budget, including setting tuition, for 2018-19. 

This an updated version of a story that was posted earlier.