Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Tuition rising slightly more than Ky. incomes

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT - In the three years since Kentucky colleges and universities have been setting their own tuition, costs have gone up a little faster.

        When the Council on Postsecondary Education was setting rates for all Kentucky institutions, per capital personal income was used as a guide to determine the cost of college, often falling around 10 percent of that standard.

        Rates have inched up since the 2001 school year by that standard, though Kentucky tuition is still a bargain compared with surrounding states and benchmark schools, council acting president Sue Moore told a legislative subcommittee Monday.

        “Kentucky's tuition rates remain relatively low,” Moore said.

        But the rates also vary among institutions now. The council used to set one tuition schedule for doctoral universities - University of Kentucky and University of Louisville - and a lower rate for the other six universities and a third for community colleges.

        Eastern Kentucky University's tuition of $1,010 was 10.3 percent of per capita income in 2000, for example. Tuition of $1,168 in 2002 was 10.8 percent of income. Tuition at Eastern this year is $1,279. Income figures are not available for this year.

        Rates now range from a high of $2,041 at UofL to a low of $760 at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The figures are somewhat misleading because Louisville, KCTCS and Western Kentucky University now roll their mandatory fees into the tuition figure. UK's cost would be $1,987.25 if required fees were rolled in. The figures are for full-time undergraduate in-state students.

        Tuition at UK and UofL was $1,480 in 2000, the last year set by the council.

        The costs have apparently not dissuaded students. Although official enrollment figures for this semester are not expected until next week, many Kentucky universities have their largest classes ever.

        The cost of a private college has similarly gone up. In 2000, the average tuition and fees at Kentucky's independent colleges and universities was $9,561 and is $11,620 this year.

        Gary Cox, director of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, said most students do not pay that amount. Between scholarships, grants and various other forms of financial aid. And Kentucky's independent schools are also a bargain, costing about two-thirds of the national average and 80 percent of the Southern average, Cox said.

        Cox, especially, made a plug for expanding the already plentiful programs Kentucky has to help pay for higher education. The state now has need-based grants, grants earned for high school academic performance, and tax-free tuition savings programs.

        “Unfortunately, in Kentucky we have way too many students with way too much financial need,” Cox said.

        Many of the programs are available to students who attend public or private schools.

        “It's a very, very good investment,” Cox said.


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