Tuition increases continue to mount across Kentucky

Murray State Board of Regents approved a 3 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students for the 2015-16 academic year, as well as a 2.5 percent increase for out-of-state undergraduate students.

This increase was the second part of a two-year plan approved by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), which allotted for an 8 percent increase over a two-year period, provided that the University did not increase tuition by more than 5 percent in any year.

The Board of Regents approved an increase of 5 percent last year for the 2014-15 academic year, meaning that this year’s increase reached the maximum amount allotted by the CPE.

The tuition increases are a direct result of lack in state appropriations, said Murray State’s Assistant Vice President of Branding and Marketing Catherine Sivills.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 4.15.23 PM

“Since 2007-08, Murray State has experienced an approximate total of $8.8 million in cuts to its operating base appropriated from the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Sivills said.

During a forum on the proposed tuition increase to the University Feb. 25, President Bob Davies spoke on the same subject.

“The biggest driver of tuition at public universities is state appropriations, time and time again,” Davies said.

According to the CPE comprehensive database, Murray State has averaged a 5 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees every year since 2002. Murray State averaged a five-year increase of 24 percent and a 10-year increase of 86 percent.

Murray State’s numbers are considerably conservative, coming in at the third lowest increase of all public universities in the state, with Kentucky State University at 72 percent and Kentucky Community and Technical College System at 64 percent.

Eastern Kentucky University averaged the highest 10-year increase at 109 percent and University of Louisville had the second highest at 107 percent.

During both the forum for students on the proposed tuition increase and the Board of Regents meeting in which the increase was voted on, Davies presented information as to just how much the increase will affect students’ pocketbooks in the upcoming semesters.

According to the presentation, an in-state undergraduate student can expect an increase of $108 per semester, counting both tuition and mandatory fees.

“As pointed out to the students, a semester is 16 weeks,” Davies said. “This is $6.75 a week. That’s a venti mocha latte a week.”

CPE does not regulate tuition increases for out-of-state undergraduate students and in-state and out-of-state graduate students.

For these students, the increases projected are a little more expensive. An out-of-state undergraduate student can expect an increase of $300 per semester.

In-state graduate students can expect an increase of  $14 per credit hour, meaning that a student taking 15 credit hours in a semester would experience a $210 increase. Out-of-state graduate students can expect an increase of $40 per credit hour, meaning that a student taking 12 credit hours in a semester would experience a $600 increase.

Regional discounts are being factored in to these increases, but there are no solid numbers yet, Davies said.

Although many states have committed to reinvesting in higher education in recent years, Kentucky was not one of them, Davies said in a previous interview with The Murray State News.  Kentucky lawmakers consider a college education an investment a student makes into their own future, and it is not the state’s job to assist.

Davies strongly disagrees with this stance.

“… it’s beyond that,” he said. “The power of education is not teaching you facts and figures for you to regurgitate: it’s enabling you to have critical thought and to have new ideas and communicate those.”

Story by Zachary Orr, Staff writer