UK Board of Trustees approves 6 percent tuition hike

A proposal to raise tuition and fees by 6 percent for the 2012-13 academic year for nearly all students sailed through committee and passed nearly unanimously by the UK Board of Trustees Tuesday afternoon.

The 6 percent increase will take effect for all resident and non-resident students except those in the College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy. Those two programs will see a 3 percent hike.

The increase will cost full-time undergraduate residents an average of $741 a year and non-residents an average $1,542 a year.

No members of the board voted against the measure, although trustees John Wilson and Irina Voro abstained.

“I am afraid that we might be putting the cart before the horse,” Voro said during the meeting. “I think it would be better if we looked inside the university and see how much money we spend.”

The university must now get the proposed increase passed by the Council on Postsecondary Education, which meets on June 21. The increases meet the criteria, which includes a maximum of 6 percent tuition increases for Kentucky research universities, set by the CPE and is expected to pass without problem.

The measure first passed the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees Tuesday morning.  Some members of the committee voiced concerns, but did not vote against the measure.

“The vote I am making would have kept me from going to school,” said Vice Chair Pamela May.

Trustee Jo Hern Curris said that she was disappointed that tuition increases seem so regular.

The plan that passed Tuesday included a 6 percent raise for 2012-13, but also detailed plans for another increase for 2013-2014.  That increase, which would still have to be passed by the board at a later date, would increase in-state tuition and fees by 3 percent and out-of-state tuition and fees by 6 percent.

“I would like to indicate that the reason I am going to, with resignation, vote today for the 6 percent  is because we are going to make efforts to have closer to 3 percent raise in the subsequent year,” Curris said. “I would find it very difficult to pass another 6 percent raise next year.”

Board member Frank Shoop indicated support for the increase, pointing to statistics presented to the group that 91 percent of UK full-time fall 2011 students receive some combination of grants or scholarships to offset their costs.

“That may soften the blow of some of these tuition increases,” Shoop said.

Finance committee chair James Stuckert reiterated what Shoop had focused on.

“I know a 6 percent increase sounds like a humongous amount, but net of everything (after grants and scholarships) for 91 percent of our students it’s $1,100 (remaining student bill after grants and scholarships),” Stuckert said. “I don’t see any super-burden on individuals.”

“I don’t see any super-burden on individuals,” finance committee chair James Stuckert said.

Outgoing SG president Micah Fielden stood behind the plan at the meeting.

“I support the president fully in this proposal, because in the long run this will be affordable for our students,” Fielden said. “If we didn’t provide increases and continue to provide a good level of education, students would have to stay longer to be able to take the classes they need.  A 6 percent increase in tuition is manageable — what could be the cost of an extra year or an extra semester.”

The new SG president, Stephen Bilas, also agreed with the need for increases.

“I am like Micah, in full support of the president,” Bilas said. “This is a difficult time for the administration and for the state with all these budget cuts.  Increases are likely and will happen, but needs to not be the go-to response to anything and everything.”