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U Of L Committee Approves Tuition Increase, Salary Freeze

The University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees Finance Committee is recommending a five percent tuition increase for the next academic year.

The measures will go before the full board next month. The increase is the highest the Council on Postsecondary Education allows this year. Students protested a nine percent tuition increase last year. University President James Ramsey says the school has tried to be more open with students about the need for another hike.

“We would prefer to not have had to increase 5%, but I think by and large our students have accepted it and realize they’re getting a real value and quality education at the University of Louisville,” he says.

The cost of housing will also increase, but there will be no faculty raises. Ramsey says faculty members understand the school’s need to cut the budget, but he’s concerned about what freezing salaries will mean for the university.

“It creates a lot of problems for us. A lot of morale problems,” he says. “Sometimes we find faculty and staff are being recruited by other organizations. But we’re looking at other non-monetary things we can do for faculty and staff.”

The committee also approved cutting mandatory meal plans by $75 dollars.

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KY College Tuition Increases Capped for '09-'10

Tuition at most Kentucky universities cannot be raised more than five percent for the coming academic year. That’s according to a decision issued Friday from the State Council on Post-secondary Education.  Officials ordered the caps despite the fact that universities are experiencing significant budget cuts.  At Eastern Kentucky University, the budget has been trimmed five percent. President Doug Whitlock says staff numbers may not grow this year in order to handle the budget shortfalls.

“I’m not talking about layoffs or terminations,  I’m talking about such things you know we currently have more than 20 budgeted staff positions that are vacant for which no searches are underway, so we’re going to have to look extremely close at those before we make a decision to fill any of them,” says Whitlock.

Whitlock also says some federal stimulus funds may be available to help soften the blow of budget cuts.

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Universities Offer In-State Tuition Across State Lines

Colleges and universities are struggling to attract students and keep costs manageable.  While many, including most Kentucky institutions, have raised tuition rates, others are looking beyond state borders to lure students.  Southern Illinois University in Carbondale recently announced it would extend in-state tuition rates to Kentucky residents.  And it’s not the first in the area to try the approach.  Spokesman Rod Sievers says it makes sense to tap nearby population centers.

“The university is in sort of a unique geographic location.  Chicago is 6 hours to the north, to the south, much closer, half the distance, is Nashville,” says Sievers.

Kentucky’s public universities are also struggling to attract students.  Despite a statewide goal to double the number of college graduates, Fall 2008 enrollment was up just under one percent.

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Beshear Appoints College Affordability Panel

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

A 25-member panel appointed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will look for ways to make college in the Commonwealth more affordable and accessible.

Twenty-five percent of Americans have college diplomas. In Kentucky, it’s 17 percent. Tuition in surrounding states has risen seven percent in the last 10 years. In Kentucky, it’s up 10 percent.

Governor Beshear believes more Kentuckians would go to college it they could afford it. So, he’s appointing a higher education task force to find ways to make that happen.

“This economic crisis only adds urgency to our higher education mission. We cannot afford to be timid. We cannot afford to be tentative. We must be aggressive, strategic and determined,” he said.

Beshear wants two reports from the group. The first, on ways to reduce college costs, is due January 15th. The other, on stabilizing funding for higher education, is due next September.