Budget with tuition increase, online class fee approved

Michael McKay

The Board of Regents met for a special budget approval meeting to vote on the budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year and to swear in SGA president Cory Dodds as a Regent.

Dodds replaced former SGA President Billy Stephens as the Student Regent.

The Board reviewed the budget at the Board of Regents at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting earlier in the month, and sent emails to WKU faculty and staff about how the changes will affect the university.

The budget was approved, but the vote was not unanimous. Dodds was the lone dissenter, addressing his concern with the budget before announcing he could not support it.

“Higher tuition should result in higher academic quality,” Dodds said.

The budget includes a 4.8 increase to tuition — up $194 to $4,236 a year — and fees.

It also includes a new fee for all students taking an online class, which would be 20 percent of the regular tuition per credit hour. In the past, the fee has only affected part-time students, or students taking a summer or winter term class.

Faculty Regent Patricia Minter expressed her concerns of the fee to the Board and Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, who was at the meeting to answer questions about the budget.

Minter said making the fee applicable to all students could hurt the popularity of the program, which she called an “extremely productive golden goose.”

“We don’t need to kill the goose who lays our golden eggs, because the colleges are squeezed as tight as they can go,” Minter said.

President Gary Ransdell said the fee would put WKU in line with other universities around the state.

“We can just no longer afford to give online classes away to full-time students,” he said.

Minter said she was “holding a warning flag” about that fee and other aspects of the budget and advised the Regents to make sure the university kept its fees within the right price-point.

The Board will meet again on July 27 for its third quarter meeting.