FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 13, 2014) — Tuition and fees for full-time resident undergraduate students at Kentucky’s public colleges and universities have increased 110 percent over a recent 13-year period, according to a report approved by a state legislative committee Thursday.
The inflation-adjusted tuition and fee data, which tracks annual tuition and mandatory fees for full-time resident undergrads at each of the state’s public institutions for academic year 2001 through academic year 2013, is found in the Legislative Research Commission staff report titled “Cost and Funding of Higher Education in Kentucky,” approved by the Program Review and Investigations Committee.
[pullquote_left]“I would hope we would start looking into the concept of rewarding universities that are performing well, and not rewarding those universities that are not performing as well.” — Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington[/pullquote_left]
The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville having the highest cost tuition and fees, according to the report. The lowest cost tuition and fees are found at schools that are part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, or KCTCS, according to the report.
In the 2013 academic year, the cost of inflation-adjusted tuition and fees at the highest priced comprehensive public universities in Kentucky was $1,678 more than tuition and fees at the state’s lowest priced comprehensive public universities, the report said. During the 2001 academic year, the difference between the highest and lowest priced comprehensive public universities in the state in terms of inflation-adjusted tuition and fee cost was only $258.
Additionally, tuition and fees are the largest revenue source of Kentucky’s public colleges and universities and their only revenue source that has increased each year since fiscal year 2005, according to the report. Revenue from tuition and fees at the state’s public colleges and universities was approximately $1.46 billion in fiscal year 2012 compared to around $1.28 billion in state revenue and around $793 million in federal revenue that fiscal year.
The report says revenue from tuition and fees increased by approximately 83 percent among Kentucky’s public colleges and universities between fiscal years 2005 and 2012. State funding increased approximately 10 percent while federal dollars increased about 44 percent and donor funding increased about 20 percent.
As for student debt, the percentage of students graduating from Kentucky public colleges and universities with college debt is over 50 percent for most schools, according to the report. With the exception of KSU and UK, more than half of graduates of Kentucky’s public universities had college debt as of fiscal year 2011, the report explains. Students graduating with the most college debt as of fiscal year 2011 were from EKU, Morehead State, and NKU where, the report states, more than two-thirds of students had debt at the time of graduation.
The tuition and fee and graduate debt figures were addressed as part of five “conclusions” made in the report as approved.
Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, suggested a comparison of Kentucky’s public college and university tuition costs with those of public postsecondary institutions in states of similar size. Buford explained that a comparison of institutions in other states with populations of less than six million would allow the committee “to see how we may rank with tuition increases and tuition cost of public schools in states that are close to our population.”
Buford also suggested further study of those Kentucky public universities with a graduation rate below 50 percent. Committee Co-Chair Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, called that a “great idea,” and asked legislative staff to generate a letter that can be sent to those schools for their input.
Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, said, additionally, Kentucky needs to look into the funding needs of its public colleges and universities.
“I would hope we would start looking into the concept of rewarding universities that are performing well, and not rewarding those universities that are not performing as well,” he said.