Regents approve increase

By Bryan Richardson

TOPEKA – K-State students will pay 5.5 percent more for tuition in the fall. It will be a 3-percent increase for out-of-state veterinary medicine students.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the tuition hike Wednesday afternoon during its monthly meeting.

In-state students will see a 5.1-percent rise including student fees. An in-state undergraduate taking 15 hours will pay $194.70 more per semester, an increase of $3,828.60 last year to $4,023.30. An in-state graduate student taking 12 hours will pay $209.40 more, an increase of $4,081.80 to $4,291.20.

Out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students, meanwhile, will pay 5.3 percent more including student fees next year.

A semester for the veterinary medicine school will increase by 5.3 percent, or $522.20, from $9,782.60 to $10,304.80, for in-state students taking 20 hours. Out-of-state veterinary medicine students will see a 3-percent rise in tuition, which amounts to $666.20, increasing from $21.254.60 to $22,920.80.

The tuition rate increase would produce $9.3 million in additional revenue based on this year’s enrollment. Another $3.8 million would be attributable to projected enrollment growth.

The money will go toward a variety of things for the Manhattan and Salina campuses, including financial aid, student and faculty retention efforts, utilities and professor benefits.

Bruce Shubert, vice president for administration and finance, said another faculty and unclassified staff salary increase could be on the horizon, depending on the enrollment levels this fall. The university last year provided a mid-year salary increase of 2.5 percent.

While the Regents approved the measure, various members expressed their displeasure with the current financial situation.

Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka said this continues the trend begun by Kansas State University and University of Kansas students two years ago. “They began paying more to fund their schools than the state of Kansas did,” he said.

Lykins said wealthy families can afford the tuition increase, while students from poor families would have to hope for grants, loans and scholarships. “When we continue to raise tuition, sooner or later, some students will say, ‘I can’t afford to go to school,’” he said.

Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman considered it a good sign that each university had scholarship money being set aside in its proposal.

“Every one of these universities is quite aware,” she said. “Nobody is going to be caught surprised that there are quality students without means.”

Regent Kenny Wilk, of Lansing, said the rate of tuition increase compared to inflation and income increases can’t continue.

According to the 2011 K-State Student Price Index, tuition has increase by 168 percent since 2002. During that same time, the inflation rate was 25 percent.

“We are far exceeding the rate of inflation and the rate of per capita income,” Wilk said. “The hard, cold fact is that is unsustainable.”

Also during the meeting, Regent Fred Logan gave his positive opinion of the recent review of the Department of Homeland Security risk assessment for the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).

The National Research Council committee conducting the review said the assessment was “technically inadequate in critical respects and is an insufficient basis on which to judge the risks.”

Despite the negative conclusion, Logan focused on the positives in the report including the absence of “probably the most damaging thing said in the first NRC report.”

In the first report in 2010, a different research council committee calculated the risk of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak from a pathogen release at 70 percent over the NBAF’s expected 50-year operating lifetime.

The current DHS assessment placed the risk for an outbreak of the disease at less than 0.11 percent, a 1-in-46,000 chance per year. While the NRC committee didn’t agree with the risk, it didn’t provide a new risk number.

“I don’t know if that assessment will get constantly repeated like the first one, but I hope it is,” Logan said. He said he hopes the funding being held is released so construction can begin.

This is a part of the continued state support for the facility.

Logan represented the Board of Regents during the NBAF Steering Committee meeting last month, which consisted for local and state officials.

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