As students expect to begin classes in August, they can also expect a tuition increase for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.
Pittsburg State University’s tuition will increase by $83 per semester, making full-time in-state undergraduate tuition $2,918 per semester.
“We never like to raise tuition, and we aspire to be a very affordable choice,” PSU President Steve Scott told the PSU marketing and communication department. “Our strategy and continued financial stewardship will enable this for the long run.”
The increase was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) after being recommended by the University Revenue Planning Committee which includes representatives from many different aspects of campus, including students, faculty, and administrators from various areas.
Doug Ball, PSU Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration, said there are several steps for any possible tuition increase.
“So, one of the responsibilities of that committee (the University Revenue Planning Committee) is to gather and review information that would be helpful in assessing the level the tuition’s at, and at the end of that process they make a recommendation to the president about a level of increase they think would be appropriate given all the circumstances that they see and all the considerations,” Ball said. “So, that process yielded a recommendation that the president considered… and ended up choosing this amount to request from the board.”
Pitt State is not the only public university in Kansas to increase tuition, with four of the six state universities increasing tuition. Emporia State University, Fort Hayes State University, and Wichita State University will also see an increase. Kansas State University and the University of Kansas will hold tuition flat for both resident and non-resident students.
According to a press release from the KBOR, universities are facing the decision for tuition increases as a result of COVID-19.
“Our institutions are facing incredibly difficult choices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said KBOR Chair Shane Bangerter. “In the face of revenue losses, increased costs and continued uncertainty, universities made great efforts to ensure that students do not bear the cost. As a result, we were able hold tuition flat or keep increases as low as possible.”
According to Ball, although there are several points in the budget that the tuition increase will go towards, there is no specific area it will target.
“The universities’ budget is a fairly complicated accumulation of costs all over the university for all of the different functions we perform,” Ball said. “So, it’s not necessarily targeted for one specific thing. It just goes in to contributing along with state funding and all the other revenue sources of the university to cover the operating costs of all of the university’s functions. A couple of specific things that are pressure points in the budget… are things like health care costs (and) faculty members have a process where they can be promoted and so a certain number of faculty members reach those points where they have earned the right to be promoted and there are some small salary increases that go along with those promotions.”
According to Ball, the university tried to keep the increase as low as possible, so it wouldn’t pose a financial burden for students.
“We certainly are concerned about the cost of a higher education and the impact it has on students,” Ball said. “That’s why we’re as cautious as we possibly can be in holding to increase as low as possible and it is absolutely our hope that this is something that will be manageable for hopefully all students, certainly the majority of students to be able to continue making progress to their degree and towards the goals of their education.”
Ball said the increase was able to remain relatively low due to the university managing its budget well in previous years and running cost effectively.
“It’s one of the things that I’m very proud of: how well the university’s leadership in all parts of the university and in all areas has really worked hard to manage spending very carefully..,” Ball said. “Every department (is) thoughtful about the money they’re spending and about making sure they’re making good choices and investing in those things that really have an impact on the student’s experience, ensuring that we’re giving them the quality education and the quality experiences that they need but ensuring we’re spending the money as wisely as we can to do that. I think our university broadly has done an outstanding job at that. They’ve been very good about looking for and finding opportunities to save money and as they’ve done that, that has helped us manage our budget in a way where we’ve been able to keep tuition rates very low.”
Peyton Johnston, a PSU senior in recreation, said that although she was not happy about a tuition increase as “it’s more money out of her pocket,” that it seemed a reasonable amount to increase by.
“It’s good they’re keeping an eye out for students and trying to keep it as low as possible,” Johnston said.
Additionally, the university is expanding the Gorilla Advantage Program which provides in-state tuition rates to non-residents. Texas and Tennessee will be added to the program through private funding, following Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas which were added last year.
“Opening new opportunities to Texas and Tennessee would not be possible without strong relationships with regional employers who need our graduates,” Scott told the PSU marketing and communication department. “Their support is essential to make up the difference between non-resident and in-state tuition.”