Council on Postsecondary Education denies 5 percent tuition increase

Taylor Harrison

The Council on Postsecondary Education did not approve WKU’s request for a 5 percent tuition increase at Thursday’s meeting, but instead, approved a 3 percent increase.

President Gary Ransdell spoke at the meeting to make a case for WKU students, faculty and staff.

“They appreciated my comments, and acknowledged our good work, but stuck to their guns on the 3 percent cap,” he said.

The 3 percent increase came at the recommendation of CPE staff.

“That was probably the most disappointing thing to me, is we were attempting to communicate with the council itself, but they chose to stay with the staff recommendation and not deviate,” he said.

However, this recommendation only applies to resident, undergraduate and face-to-face students. Therefore, it’s still possible to raise tuition by 5 percent for online, graduate and non-resident students.

Ransdell said WKU tried communicating with the staff ahead of time, but this was the first and only chance they had to talk to the council.

“We had a balanced budget with no cuts, no reductions, no impact on positions with a 5 percent increase,” Ransdell said. “Now, we will have a budget reduction. I have asked each of the vice presidents to submit recommendations and suggestions for ways in which we can reduce spending, departments, positions or programs or you know, whatever.”

Over the next several weeks, Ransdell said the focus will be to have a balanced budget to recommend to the Board of Regents in June.

He said over the past few months, he wouldn’t have expected this outcome, but that changed over the last few weeks.

“But we will take it in stride, and we will deal with it as we’ve done with other cuts,” he said. “The curious thing here is that the state’s not cutting our budget this time, this one’s coming from CPE.”

As for what to do next to reduce the budget, Ransdell said he has a lot of ideas, but he is waiting to hear from the vice presidents. He said it’s premature for specific ideas.

“Those things will unfold over the next five or six weeks,” he said.

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said the CPE is trying to act in the best interest of students.

She said it’s not a surprising decision to her, especially since the University of Kentucky announced that they would be increasing tuition by 3 percent.

“It could have very well had some impact on the rest of us, in terms of perceptions that if the University of Kentucky can manage their cost increases and still keep their rates very affordable as far as the rate increase, then perhaps maybe the rest of us should be challenged to do the 3 percent as well,” she said.

She also said she is anticipating that a 5 percent increase will be approved for non-resident, graduate and online students, as the CPE gives WKU some autonomy in that regard.

“While they technically approve all our rates, there’s a bit of a delegated authority to determine what we think are market-competitive rates,” she said.

Mead said the goal is to make a decision by the end of April.

“Because we need to go forth with the budget,” she said. “The campus needs to know what the expectations are moving forward.”