President Caboni to ask Regents for 3% tuition increase

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Debra Murray, Engagement Editor

President Timothy Caboni is asking the WKU Board of Regents to increase tuition by 3%, the maximum allowed by the state, for 2023-24, according to a draft of WKU’s operating budget obtained by the College Heights Herald.

A developmental update of the fiscal year 2024 budget was presented at the second quarterly of the Board of Regents on May 4. 

The proposed increase would raise tuition for full-time Kentucky residents to about $5,722 a semester, up from $5,556 currently.

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“The Council on Postsecondary Education approved a 5% tuition increase over the next two years for Kentucky’s public institutions,” Jace Lux, director of media relations, said via email. “In order to cover increasing operational costs, including those associated with a proposed 2% salary pool for employees, university administration recommended a 3% tuition increase.”

According to the draft budget, tuition and fees would provide 46% of the university’s $389.9 million budget for the coming year, or more than $177.1 million. The budget Caboni is proposing is $6.5 million, or 2% more than in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

State appropriations represent 21% of WKU’s total revenue budget. This is a 3% decrease, or $2.27 million less. WKU’s state appropriation budget is $83.4 million, last year’s was $85.7 million. 

Kentucky’s performance funding provided to WKU has decreased by 25% or $1.91 million. This funding pool is allocated to public universities and colleges based on how well those institutions perform, according to the draft. Those metrics are broken down as follows: 35% student success including degree production and student success towards a degree, 35% course completion for student credit hours earned, 30% operational support referring to campus operations, services and infrastructure. 

The budget draft noted that state allocation funding fluctuates each year based on the performance metrics. Demographic changes have caused fewer high school graduates as well as less students. Now, most colleges are relying on non-resident students. The budget draft also mentions that WKU’s “aggressive enrollment cultivation,” border scholarships and proximity to Nashville, Tennessee has allowed the university to recruit. However, the draft said that the state’s performance funding model weights non-resident students as taking the credit hours of resident students. 

Other sources of revenue include sales and services and auxiliary, restricted funds and “other revenue.” Other revenue refers to non-instructional programs such as working capital, education camps revenue and vehicle parking permits. 

Other revenue is set to increase by 22% or $7 million. The draft explains that two factors will lead to the increase: the university adopted a short-term investment policy and a cash management strategy. The draft states that the second increase is because of the reclassification of the Barnes & Noble contract, which was previously classified under auxiliary. 

In the expenditure summary of the budget draft, it said that the Budget Executive Committee will recommend the allocation strategy of 2% pool to adjust for cost of living increases. 

However, student and graduate assistant salaries will decrease by 5% or $374,000, according to the draft. 

The operating budget will be up for approval at the special budget meeting on June 2.

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @debramurrayy.