4.8 % tuition hike
| Marcus Clem reporter |
Students at Pittsburg State will see a tuition bill increase if the university’s state overseer gives the final nod later this year.
Under the current proposal, tuition will rise by 4.8 percent, or $113 per semester for a full-time student.
With the approval of the Kansas Board of Regents, the new tuition level for full-time students will be set at $2,468. The combination tuition and fee package for the 2013-2014 academic year was $2,953. The Regents are expected to rule on the proposal some time in June.
Steve Scott, university president, asked for this increase in light of the decision this year by the Kansas State Assembly to keep overall higher-education funding flat.
“The tuition committee and the President’s Council worked very hard to keep the increase to the lowest level possible,” Scott said. “We balanced the need for quality with that of affordability.
“The end result is that, even with these proposed increases, the cost of attending Pittsburg State is still among the lowest in the region.”
PSU has a flat-rate tuition, which means full-time students pay the same amount regardless of the number of additional hours they take.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tuition statewide has increased 8 percent since 2012 and 20 percent since 2008. Since the international economic crisis of 2007, funding for Kansas higher education has fallen 23 percent.
Jordan Schaper, senior in political science and the Student Government Association president, says that he believes this reflects a lack of interest among state legislators in properly supporting education in the state.
“For whatever reason, the state doesn’t believe it’s economically justifiable to continue to invest in higher education,” he said. “That’s very unfortunate because a lot of the legislators making these decisions benefited from a cheaper higher-education experience when they were in college.”
Breezi Hancock, sophomore in communication and data-entry employee for the university’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, says that she’s already dealt with a lot of students and families who are anxious about higher costs.
“I’m sure that this is not for legitimate reasons,” she said. “Tuition is not really solidified until we get closer to the academic year, so people are just annoyed that we can’t give them more information.
“I wish there was more support from the state. It is a public service to get an education.”
Targeted funding for specific university programs did come from the legislature this year as part of a program sponsored by Gov. Sam Brownback, but Scott says that’s not good enough.
“We’re appreciative of the targeted enhancement, but cuts to our general fund in recent years are placing us in a difficult position,” he said.
Schaper says that students must look at the reasons tuition hikes are happening, not just the costs of dealing with them.
“It’s really unfortunate that tuition is going up,” he said. “I dislike it as much as anyone else, but we have to understand that this is a response to Topeka and their budget decisions.
“That being said … Find a way to get your voice out there because this is not a trend that we should be following.”