Colleges brace for tuition hikes

Shawntaye Hopkins

There’s a reason why some university administrators across Kentucky believe they will not get any additional operating money this year.

It wasn’t in the House budget, Senate budget or Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s budget proposal.

So money probably won’t appear in the final budget by April 15, the General Assembly’s deadline for creating a spending plan.

A lack in state funding has left state university administrators planning for tuition increases for the 2004-05 academic year.

Western’s tuition rate will probably be increased by 10 percent, President Gary Ransdell said.

The Board of Regents promised in October not to increase tuition for fall 2004 by more than 10 percent after approving an 11 percent increase for this semester.

The board will vote on a tuition proposal at the April 30 meeting, Ransdell said.

University of Kentucky officials recently announced a proposed tuition increase of $309 for in-state freshmen and sophomores and a $389 increase for in-state juniors and seniors.

Western has experienced three budget cuts in the past four years, Ransdell said.

Other universities are facing similar problems.

The University of Louisville will discuss a possible tuition increase on Thursday, said Rae Goldsmith, associate vice president for communications.

“I think it is safe to say we are looking at an increase,” he said. “We’ve had multiple state budget cuts.”

Northern Kentucky University administrators expect a rate increase of 16 to 19.4 percent, or about $600 to $700, said Gerald Hunter, vice president for enrollment and financial planning at Northern.

He said administrators are not focused on the budget cuts, but are focused on the needs of the university.

The Board of Regents at Morehead State University originally gave administrators authorization to increase tuition 6 to 9 percent in November, said Keith Kappes, vice president for university relations at the school.

“We will go well beyond that 6 to 9 percent we’ve been authorized to use,” he said. “Like most institutions we’re suffering with our growth.”

A 9 percent increase would be about $152, Kappes said. Tuition at Morehead is $1,844 each semester.

“It’s sad that students and their families have to pay more of the cost because the executive and legislative branches aren’t keeping their commitments, I believe, to the people of Kentucky,” Kappes said.

King Alexander, president of Murray State University, said administrators will do everything they can to keep tuition low for students and families.

He said a $250 increase is possible at the university.

Alexander said the school will try to make up for money lost through state budget cuts.

Herald reporters Adriane Hardin and Ashlee Clark contributed to this story.

Reach the reporters at [email protected]