Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 22, 2013

Tuition cap puts MSU in bind

Smaller than expected increase approved by council

Mike James
The Independent

MOREHEAD — A smaller than expected tuition increase ceiling approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education will put pressure on Morehead State University’s budget, President Wayne Andrews said.

Layoffs are not in the picture, but the university will have to scale back some plans, Andrews said.

Among them are adding staff in key areas related to retention, adjustments to salary schedules, replacement of instructional and facilities equipment, and fulfillment of budget requests from every university department. “We’re not going to be able to do everything we wanted to do,” he said.

The council last week approved a 3 percent ceiling for tuition increases for the coming academic year for in-state undergraduates at the state’s public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

The cap represents the smallest average increase in 15 years.

“Given the challenging economic environment that our students face, the council felt it was appropriate that tuition increases be as minimal as possible next year, while still allowing institutions some revenue to meet growing fixed costs,” council president Bob King said.

The additional revenue will cover only about half of the estimated $61.4 million fixed-cost increase next year, according to the council. The result will be a budget shortfall of about $29.9 million.

For the past five years the council has approved higher caps and Morehead State’s preliminary budget planning had been based on a 4 percent increase, Andrews said.

Andrews said with the General Assembly having come to terms on the state retirement issue, it may be in a better position to turn its attention to postsecondary education.

The council also maintained the current floor for nonresident undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees at two times the resident undergraduate rate. For graduate and online tuition and fees, the council allowed the public universities to submit market competitive resident and nonresident rates.

The council will vote on complete campus tuition proposals at its June 20 meeting.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.