Students could see 6 percent tuition increase for second straight year



By Becca Clemons

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For the second year in a row, UK students could see a 6 percent tuition increase — or $259 per semester for resident undergraduate students.

In a campus-wide email Tuesday, UK President Lee Todd said tuition increases can offset some of the budget deficit the university will face, since its appropriations from the state will decrease from last year.

Todd will ask the Board of Trustees at their May 3 meeting to approve the 6 percent increase.

“I understand the pain tuition increases cause our students and their families,” Todd said in the email. “But we do our students a grave and lasting disservice if we let the quality of their undergraduate experience erode. And it will erode if flat salaries result in faculty and staff departures and if flat budgets keep us from investing in this university’s progress.”

According to a survey of tuition and required fees from the University of Virginia, UK’s current resident tuition rates rank 17th in comparison to those of Top 20 institutions, which UK is striving to be as part of Todd’s proposed business plan to be a Top 20 public research university by 2020. The university expects its tuition rates to remain near or at the same position.

UK’s current non-resident rates are second lowest in comparison to the Top 20 institutions.

The increase will generate $14.8 million for the university, Todd said.

Even with the tuition increase, $20 million more is needed to balance the budget, Todd said. A $3.1 million reduction in state funding next year — a 1 percent cut — will make internal cuts necessary to balance the budget.

“Every department on campus is being asked to look at a cut ranging from 1 to 3 percent on average,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. Those departments will then make recommendations to the president and provost.

“The goal will be to do things that minimize any impact on education and teaching,” he said. “The president and provost are adamant that any cuts not impact the educational mission.”

As tuition fees increase, Blanton said he expects scholarship money to increase as well.

“What the president and the provost have tried to do in recent years is increase scholarships and financial aid proportionally to the increases in tuition,” he said, “so we’ll try and do that again this year.”

Todd said the increases will benefit students in a number of ways, like keeping scholarships competitive, implementing the new General Education curriculum — to replace the current University Studies Program, funding Student Center renovations, creating smaller classes and offering more online courses.

Blanton said many colleges are offering online courses for this summer; the College of Art & Sciences will roughly double its online course offerings.

Blanton said this will be the third year in a row that the percentage of tuition increases has been below double digits. The past two years have seen 5 and 6 percent increases.

He said these increases stem from state budget cuts in nine of the last 10 years.