The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has capped tuition increases at public universities for the coming academic year.
The universities of Louisville and Kentucky cannot raise tuition more than six percent, and both schools are planning to increase costs by that amount. It will be the latest in a string of tuition increases the universities say are necessary to offset rising costs and lackluster funding from the state.
Kentuckiana Works Executive Director Michael Gritton says the hikes are unfortunate, because they can lead to students taking on additional debt and jobs to afford an education.
“They stretch a four year program into a five or six year program,” he says. “They end up running into funding issues when the water pump goes out in the car and all of a sudden, they drop out for the semester. Then we have a lot of people that are called stop outs in the business because they started and didn’t finish. So if you look at the census information for Louisville or for the region, we have over 100,000 people in our region who have some college credit, but no degree.”
Gritton says tuition increases can help universities provide better services, but higher costs should be offset by additional aid.
“We’ve got to make sure that lower middle class and middle class kids and adults who have affordability issues are helped by the state and the federal government to go back to school and get that education so they become productive taxpayers who make more money and contribute to the next generation,” he says. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t let tuition go up, but if tuition is going to go up, the state and the federal government have an obligation—and I think it’s a smart obligation—to make it possible for people to get an education. We should not say ‘The only way you’re going to get it is if you work 40 hours a week and go to college.’ Because what people tell us who run colleges is, that’s not a successful formula for students, whether they’re 25 years old or 45.”
U of L raised tuition six percent last year. In prior years, tuition increases ranged from five percent to more than ten percent.