An open forum held Wednesday evening to discuss tuition increases for the 2015-16 school year piqued interest of students, faculty and staff alike.
President Bob Davies spoke at the meeting, which was an opportunity for students to express concerns about the proposed 3 percent tuition increase, which will be voted on this Friday.
As state appropriations for public universities decrease, Davies said the Board of Regents is left with deciding how to keep Murray State tuition affordable, predictable and competitive.
“We are trying to provide the best return on the investment students are making on their education,” Davies said. “The biggest driver of tuition at public universities is state appropriations, time and time again.”
The 2014-15 budget rang in at $131 million, 56 percent of which was made up of tuition money. The rest was funded by state appropriations. Murray State is one of many public universities facing tuition increases to make up for receiving less.
Jackie Dudley, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services, presented information at the forum that compared Murray State to other Kentucky public universities. Dudley said the tuition increases set to be proposed this week are on par with statewide trends.
Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, University of Louisville and University of Kentucky are all expected to propose a tuition increase as well, all averaging 3 percent.
Among these state schools, Murray State ranks second in lowest proposed tuition rates, paying 22 percent less than Western Kentucky and 16 percent less than Northern Kentucky.
At the forum, students expressed concerns about what tuition money paid for within the university. Both Dudley and Davies said one of the University’s top budget priorities is people.
“Eighty percent of costs are people,” Davies said. “We want to keep high quality faculty for our students.”
Approximately 35 percent of tuition comes back to students in the form of discounts such as scholarships. Olivia Jacks, sophomore from Louisville, Ky., said this percentage should be higher.
“Well, I’m not happy about the tuition increase,” Jacks said, “But there should be more scholarship money available if you want to encourage students to go to college and further their education to get more opportunities.”
Jacks said many students and their families are under pressure to pay for college.
“Frankfort needs to hear from students,” Davies said. “I can tell them that higher education funding is important, but they would love to hear it from students.”
Story by Lucy Easley, Staff writer