Tuition rises at several universities after setting rates.

Joe Lord

Now might not be the safest time to be a college student in Kentucky. But personal safety isn’t the issue. It’s pocketbooks students are worried about.

Two of Kentucky’s eight state universities plan to increase tuition after previously setting their rates last year. Two others have increased their tuition as much as 10 percent beyond estimates given to the Council on Postsecondary Education in October.

President Gary Ransdell said Western, after passing a 10.4 percent increase in the fall, will not increase tuition next year. But fees will likely increase.

The main reason for the sudden change of heart at other schools: concerns that state money doled out by the General Assembly last month will not cover the growing costs of employee salary increases and health insurance, among other issues.

Ransdell said, while Western will not increase tuition, the Board of Regents will take up a total of $109 per student in additional fees for the coming school year at its May 9 meeting.

Those fees would go to 91.7-WWHR, deferred maintenance, the parking structure expansion and the library, he said.

“When you factor the fees together, we’ll end up being in the same range with everybody else,” Ransdell said.

Two hours north on I-65, students will face more than fee increases.

The University of Louisville’s trustees will vote today on whether to increase tuition by 9 percent for the 2003-2004 school year, said UofL spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith. They had previously approved a 6.4 percent increase for the 2003-2004 school year.

Goldsmith said UofL’s problems stem from the legislature’s budget, weak returns on investments and rising health insurance costs.

“We do have an agreement with our students that we won’t raise tuition more than 7 percent, unless there are some special circumstances,” she said. “This would certainly not be our first choice, but we feel we tried to cut everything else in the university before we looked at this as an option.”

UofL students have mixed feelings on the increase. Christopher Marlin, president of UofL’s Student Government Association, said he’ll vote for the tuition increase tomorrow mostly because the university needs the revenue to cover health insurance costs for faculty and staff.

Marlin said students voiced opposition to the plan on television news broadcasts in Louisville.

“I was very upset last night when I listened to students talk about how it would effect them,” said Marlin, who is also a trustee. “It weighed heavily on me. This is the part of the job I hate.”

Marlin said he blamed the increase on state legislators instead of university administrators.

Southward, another Kentucky college, will take the same plunge this summer.

On June 6, Morehead State University will vote whether to up its tuition 15 percent, spokeswoman Pauline Young said. Their Board of Regents had agreed last year to increase tuition by 8 percent.

According to data provided by the CPE, Northern Kentucky University increased its tuition 16.4 percent last month after estimating a 6 percent increase in October, and the University of Kentucky increased its tuition 15 percent last month after estimating a 5.5 percent increase.

Kentucky State is also considering a tuition increase, according to the CPE data.

Western, Eastern and Murray have not changed tuition plans to date, according to the CPE data, which does not include fee increases.

Northern’s Board of Regents waited until after it knew its state funding before passing its budget, something normally done in January, said associate budget director Angela Schaffer. Until then, incoming freshman were told that an increase could be as much as 20 percent.

“Our students start transition programs in February, and we didn’t have the tuition dollar to tell them,” Schaffer said.

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