New option could help planning

Ashlee Clark

Lauren Torger had the opportunity to discuss the new tuition payment options at Western with President Gary Ransdell last spring – a semester before she began her stay on the Hill.

Torger, a freshman from Chicago, said she and Ransdell discussed a four-year tuition plan approved by the Board of Regents last semester. The plan sets tuition rates through 2008.

The plan includes an option that allows students to pay their tuition through 2008 in one lump sum at the approved rates. Students who opt for the prepayment plan will not have to pay for possible tuition increases in the future.

The plan is the first of its kind in Kentucky higher education, Ransdell said.

The plan was approved to help students and their parents know the cost of tuition in the future, he said.The plan will also enable Western to gauge its revenue stream.

“I’m looking at options to allow somebody to lock in a rate regardless of what tuition variables become in the future,” Ransdell said.

Torger said one lump tuition payment may be more favorable for parents than paying tuition each semester.

“It’s just out of your head, out of your hair,” she said.

The total in-state rate for students prepaying for their tuition from fall 2004 to spring 2008 is $21,141, Ransdell said. The rate for out-of-state students is $52,833.

“You could do four years here for less than it would cost for one year at most private universities,” he said.

Upperclassmen can also pay for their remaining tuition through 2008 in one payment, Ransdell said.

The fall 2004 undergraduate tuition rate for in-state students is $2,118, according to the tuition prepayment plan agreement. That tuition rate increases to $2,961 by spring 2008.

In the plan, tuition is increased each semester from fall 2004 to fall 2006.

Although a tuition increase is scheduled for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years, there will be no changes between the fall and spring semesters. The increase schedule from 2006 to 2008 would return to a pre-1994 tuition increase rate of 5 percent, Ransdell said.

Only one person has participated in the prepayment plan, he said.

If a student who participated in the tuition payment plan leaves Western they will get a refund for all future prepaid semesters.

Extra money from the tuition prepayments will go toward campus improvements if the university gets more money than anticipated from the state Ransdell said.

Tuition rates haven’t been set beyond 2008, but discussions will begin at the October Board of Regents meeting, Ransdell said.

Some freshmen said they would be hesitant to pay tuition for four years if they are not sure how long their academic careers will last at Western.

“I think it’s too big of a commitment for me, but if people know what you like, then it might be good for them,” said Rosie Elas, a freshman from Columbus, Ohio.

Louisville freshman Joe Lyons said he thinks the plan could be beneficial for some students.

“The only thing I think would be bad about it would be if Western didn’t work out for me,” he said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].