Board approves fees increase, tuition to rise 3.7 percent total

Jessica Voorhees

Clarification: An earlier version of this story mentioned the Board of Regents approved the 2015-2016 Tuition and Fees Schedule. The Board of Regents committees approved the increase and the Board of Regents will vote on the decision on April 24. 

WKU students will face an overall 3.7 percent tuition increase, including higher fees next year. 

The Board of Regents committees approved the 2015-2016 Tuition and Fees Schedule, which will increase fees and tuition rates next year for students, at their committee meeting Friday. 

Ann Mead, senior vice president for finance and administration, said the resident undergraduate tuition for 2016 will increase 3.1 percent. 

This fee is based on the Council on Postsecondary Education’s approval in April 2014 of a two-year 8.2 percent tuition increase for resident undergraduate students. 

Mead said with the addition of fees, such as the Student Government Association-introduced $30 student fee for a new parking structure, the tuition rate will increase 3.7 percent. 

The Board discussed the increase in student fees, such as a 3 percent increase in fees for student athletics and student centers. 

The athletics fee is $218 and the centers fee is $62. 

Mead said the university raised the fees consistent with tuition.

“These two fees have been frozen for two years and we’re recommending a minimal increase to support those operations,” she said.

Faculty Regent Barbara Burch questioned the increase in fees.

“I am particularly concerned about raising the athletic fee,” she said. “It isn’t because I don’t think they need the money. It’s because everybody needs the money and when you look at the chart there… from 2011-2015 there was a pretty significant increase in athletic fee.”

The athletic fee raised from $205 in 2010-2011 to $212 in 2014-2015, while student revenue from the fee dropped from $6,521,111 to $6,026,090 in that same time span. 

Mead said athletics has been dealing with declining enrollment and fee revenue.

Burch said she was “not unsympathetic but concerned” with increasing the fee for athletics, which has revenue-generating capacity unlike other services the university provides. 

The undergraduate distance learning rate will increase 2.4 percent and the graduate online rate will increase 5.5 percent. 

The rate for resident graduate students will increase 5.4 percent and non-resident domestic students will pay an increase of 10.4 percent. 

The schedule also introduced a new rate for Kentucky P-12 educators that discounts graduate tuition for all teachers and other certified school personnel. 

Sam Evans, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said the university introduced the rate to make a graduate education “more affordable for P-12 educators who have not experienced pay raise for a number of years.”

“Our educators are the key to success in the P-12 environment,” he said. “Successful students in the P-12 environment become the pipeline for WKU.”

Mead said the Tuition and Fees Schedule will move to the Council on Postsecondary Education after approval from the Board, which will review primarily its affordability for the resident undergraduate student.