Home » CPE approves plans to forgo tuition hikes at five universities

CPE approves plans to forgo tuition hikes at five universities

Historic vote sets the stage for lowest overall tuition growth in decades
Aaron Thompson

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Students at five Kentucky universities will not face any tuition hikes this fall under plans approved Friday by the state Council on Postsecondary Education as part of a strategic effort to maintain college affordability during COVID-19.

Public campuses are on track for one of the smallest average increases in tuition in decades, although rates at three state universities remain pending. While the Council did not cap tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, CPE has strongly encouraged campuses to limit increases as students grapple with financial fallout from the pandemic.

“Higher education is bracing for significant financial challenges over the next 18 months, yet campuses are taking every possible step to keep tuition low and limit the impact on students and families,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “It’s clear that campuses are placing students first in all their decisions, and I want to commend their commitment to affordability in these tough times.”

Institutions that abstained from raising rates included Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University. The “no hikes” approach applies to resident and non-resident undergraduates and resident and non-resident graduate students at these campuses.

KSU also received approval to decrease tuition for non-resident undergraduate students by 37.6% – a $7,450 reduction – and Murray State has announced plans to lower its rates for some non-resident students who enroll for the first time this summer or in the fall.

Budget officials from the five universities and CPE estimate that forgoing increases in tuition will contribute to revenue shortfalls in 2020-21, which could range from $2.4 million to $16 million depending on the campus. Meanwhile, fixed and unavoidable costs are expected to grow across the system.

The Council also approved a plan today for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to increase rates by $5 per credit hour for resident undergraduates and $10 per credit hour for non-residents. That will boost revenues by about $2.5 million; however, fixed costs at KCTCS are expected to increase by nearly $30 million next year.

The University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University were still finalizing tuition proposals as of today’s Council meeting. The Council has authorized its Finance Committee to review and approve those proposals in July.

In other action, the Council approved six new academic programs, including:

• Western Kentucky University — Bachelor of Science in environmental, sustainability and geographic studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film production.

• University of Louisville — Bachelor of Science in business administration and Master of Science in materials and energy science and engineering.

• Murray State University — Bachelor of Science in respiratory therapy and Bachelor of Science in general studies.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved the 2020-21 agency operating budget.

• Amended the Council bylaws.

• Presented resolutions honoring and commending Centre College President John A. Roush, Sherron Jackson for his 40 years of service to the Council, and CPE student member Grant Minix.

• Heard reports from President Aaron Thompson and Interim Commissioner Kevin Brown and updates on the performance funding distribution, campus reopening plans, the 2019 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Evaluation Report and updates on communications and outreach. Campus reports were also available.

The next meeting of the Council is set Sept. 14-15.

Meeting materials are available at http://cpe.ky.gov/aboutus/meetings.html.