Trustees to vote on tuition increase

Students will most likely be paying more for their education next year pending tomorrow’s approval of a proposal that would raise tuition 9 percent for in-state students and offer no new scholarships.

Tomorrow, the UK Board of Trustees will consider President Lee Todd’s recommendation to raise tuition and mandatory fees 9 percent for in-state students and 6.6 percent for out-of-state students for the 2008-09 school year. On-campus housing prices would not be raised, and dining costs would go up 4 percent.

Staff and faculty would receive no pay increases.

If Todd’s proposal is approved by the board tomorrow, it will move to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for consideration April 30. For at least the past three years, each proposal sent to the CPE by the Board of Trustees has been approved with no changes.

Todd’s recommendations were passed by the Board of Trustees unanimously last year and overwhelmingly the year before that.

UK would increase scholarship funding $1.2 million for the 2008-09 school year as part of Todd’s recommendation. However, those funds will go to maintaining existing tuition-based scholarships, such as the Singletary and the Governor’s Scholars Program scholarships, said UK spokesman Jay Blanton.

Staff trustee Russ Williams said that while there will be discussion on whether to raise tuition, he does not anticipate the proposal having any problems passing through to the CPE.

Williams said he does take issue with a 1999 decision to give the Board of Trustees the authority to approve tuition increases. While universities come up with an increase, the CPE selects a cap on tuition hikes before the board’s decisions and gives the final approval for increases.

The CPE made the change because it is “afraid of taking the heat” for tuition decisions, he said.

“If they’re going to set a cap, they need to set tuition and fees like they used to,” he said.

The student representative to the CPE, Ryan Quarles, said the reason the higher education authority gives the Board of Trustees approval is because individual universities know best their unique needs. However, the CPE provides an effective check on universities’ tuition decisions, he said.

“I don’t think big government should be holding their hands all the time, but at the same time there is a responsibility to citizens,” Quarles said.

Where a student group will have a say at tomorrow’s board meeting is on next year’s fees. For the first year, a student fee committee formed this year to propose changes to the amount included in full-time students’ tuition cost for student organizations to present to the Board of Trustees.

The committee, made up of seven voting members, approved increasing student fees by about $36, which includes a new fee of 75 cents for UK Greenthumb and increases in every fee but Student Services. Pat Terrell, UK’s vice president for student affairs, also sent a recommendation that includes about the same level of increase.

All Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public, although attendees are not permitted to address the board unless the floor is opened to them. Tomorrow’s board meeting will be at 1 p.m. on the 18th floor of the Patterson Office Tower.