Tuition and mandatory fees for in-state University of Kentucky students will jump by 4 percent this fall.
First-year resident students will pay $5,886 in tuition and fees per semester, up from $5,660 last year. Out-of-state students will see a 6.5 percent increase. Tuition has steadily risen for more than a decade, growing to double the rate most freshmen paid in 2005.
Student representative Rowan Reid says she sees the need to attract quality faculty, staff, and administrators, but it often feels like "the easiest person to put the burden on is the student."
"I understand that from a competitive market standpoint, but it still is difficult to explain to students why those things are happening while the cost for them is continually increasing," she adds.
UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday says he believes dealing with increasing costs is a shared burden at the school.
"We take no joy in looking at a 3 or 4 or some other type of percent of increase," he says. "Our goal is to continue to manage that, to achieve access and affordability, and I think that's evidenced by our aid package."
That financial aid pool, which Monday says will be going toward more need-based scholarships, will increase by 8 percent under the spending plan.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto says the school will have to take a wait-and-see approach on federal spending under the new administration.
President Donald Trump’s so-called “skinny budget” would shrink student financial aid programs and university research spending. Asked about the outlook Tuesday, Capilouto said he’s a realist about Trump’s initial budget, but he’s paying attention to early signals from lawmakers.
"Some of the positive statements that have been made about federal funding, especially NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding, I take to be encouraging, but we'll have to wait and see," he told colleagues around the table.
Tuesday, UK trustees approved a $3.7 billion dollar budget, roughly a $100 million dollar increase over last year.
Faring Well Under Funding Formula
The University of Kentucky came out a little ahead in the first year of performance-based funding in the commonwealth.
The model has universities compete against one another for a portion of state dollars and allocates the funds based on how well the institutions meet a variety of measures, including graduation rates and credit hours awarded.
This time around, five percent – or about $13 to 14 billion dollars – was up for grabs. UK Vice President of Finance and Administration Eric Monday says UK won back 100 percent of its funding, plus about $60,800 dollars.
That came at the expense of the University of Louisville.
"You're competing against the other institution in your category. For us at the University of Kentucky, there's only one," Monday explains. "If you look at the comprehensive universities, they have several in that category... so there's a little bit more movement of funds."
One trustee expressed dissatisfaction with performance-based funding during Tuesday meeting, but UK President Eli Capilouto defended the intent of the model.