LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 23, 2015) — The UK Board of Trustees Friday approved a record $3.4 billion budget that includes a 3 percent tuition increase, 3.5 percent raises for staff and faculty, and $103 million in scholarships and financial aid for students.
That budget, according to University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, demonstrates an unwavering focus on recruiting and retaining students, faculty and staff along with a vibrant health care system experiencing remarkable growth.
“This budget, more than mere numbers, is about people,” Capilouto said. “We are investing our resources toward creating access and quality for students and their families, while giving them the tools they need to succeed. And we are investing in our faculty and staff, who create an innovative environment of learning, scholarship, healing and discovery that promises advances for our state.”
Highlights of the budget include:
A focus on students …
• A record $103 million in institutional scholarships and financial aid — up from $88 million last year and nearly double what UK provided students in fiscal year 2011.
• Moreover, this coming year, UK resident students will experience a 3 percent tuition increase, meaning the four-year average for increases will have dipped below 5 percent, down from a rolling average of 13 percent in just 2006.
• At the same time, 53 percent of UK students continue to graduate without debt and the average for those who do have debt is under $27,000.
• UK has maintained a focus on keeping its doors open widest to Kentuckians as 35 percent of resident first-year students were eligible for Pell grants in fall 2014 — one important measure of need — an increase of 6 percent since 2012.
• Looked at another way, a quarter of undergraduate full-time students from Kentucky, who filed the FASFA, in 2014 came from families with a median income of less than $19,000 annually. For those students, 95 percent of their tuition and mandatory fees were covered by scholarships and grants that did not have to be re-paid.
• Kentucky first-generation students at UK also have increased to 17 percent of first-year students.
A focus on people …
• A 3.5 percent merit raise pool for faculty and staff. It is the third year in a row of substantive merit raises for faculty and staff — a key priority for Capilouto when he came to UK in July 2011.
• At the same time, cost increases for benefits paid by employees have been limited. UK employees enrolled in the UK HMO single plan will pay $28 per month, one dollar more than the current cost. In addition, the university will start providing accidental death and dismemberment coverage (1 x salary) effective July 1 at no cost to the employee.
• And the university is investing in an initiative to bring starting salaries to a minimum of $10 an hour, which is designed to better recruit and retain UK employees. Most employees making up to $11.99 per hour will also receive an increase in their pay to address salary compression created by the new starting salaries initiative.
A focus on healing …
• UK’s health care enterprise — with record volumes of patients and increased presence as the state’s major referral center for advanced subspecialty care — now represents a little more than 40 percent of the university’s overall budget.
• This coming year, UK HealthCare will have a budget of more than $1.3 billion, an increase of more than $200 million over last year.
A focus on operating efficiently …
• In the past four years, UK has initiated more than $1.7 billion in capital investments — the vast majority of which are being funded internally, such as the new patient care facility, through public-private partnerships, philanthropy or other partnerships such as with Athletics.
• Major projects include a new research building, continued fitting out and building of health care facilities, renovations and expansions of the Gatton College of Business and Economics and College of Law, a new Academic Science Building, a renovated Commonwealth Stadium, and innovative public-private partnerships that have transformed UK’s student housing and dining services.
• At the same time, one major ratings agency — Standard and Poor’s — has upgraded the university’s bond ratings, a reflection of its stewardship including strategic investments in infrastructure and attractiveness as an educational and research institution.
• Reflecting that increased bond rating is the fact that UK’s debt as a percentage of its budget has dropped even as investments in facilities have dramatically expanded. In 2014-2015, UK’s debt as a percentage of its budget was 3.25 percent. In 2015-2016, it is projected to drop to 2.86 percent.
“Our vision and mission for Kentucky’s flagship institution is to transform,” Capilouto said. “We do that best by strategically investing in the success of our students, our people and our facilities in ways that promote education and discovery, help and healing. This budget, fundamentally, represents those priorities and our focus on transforming our state’s future through education, research, creativity, care and service.”