CPE gives OK to tuition rates in Ky.

Published 8:40 am Monday, June 28, 2021

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has approved tuition rates for the state’s public colleges and universities for next year, with increases ranging from zero to 2%.

Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System have both decided to freeze their tuition at the same rate as this past year.

“This past year has tested our values like none before, and I’m proud to say that higher education is living up to its commitments,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “These rates strike the right balance between affordability for students and flexibility for campuses, and I want to thank all of our institutions for holding the line through a difficult time.”

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Last month, the Council adopted ceilings for both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. They allow universities to raise tuition up to 3% through 2023, an average increase of 1.5% each year, but not more than 2% in any one year.

They also limited tuition increases at KCTCS schools to $5 per credit hour over the next two years, equal to 2.7% through 2023. However, KCTCS may only raise the rate by $3 per credit hour in any one year.

The approved rates for 2021-22 amount to an average tuition and fee increase of 1.2% systemwide, following an historically low 0.7% average increase in the school year that just ended, and an average of about 4% per year over the prior decade.

During that time, campuses have faced unprecedented budget challenges related to lower enrollment and state funding cuts. Fixed and unavoidable costs for campuses are also expected to rise by nearly $117 million next year, about 3.2%. Revenue from next year’s tuition increases will only cover about 20% of that need, according to estimates.

Campuses are also dealing with $480 million in added costs and lost revenue due to the pandemic. Federal relief funds have helped much of the financial impact, but the costs and revenue losses at many institutions have exceeded federal awards, and officials expect that gap to continue growing next year.

Thompson said the federal relief, along with new funding for campuses in the state budget, was critical to keeping rate increases at a minimum, and praised Kentucky’s federal delegation, Gov. Andy Beshear and state lawmakers for their support.

“Our state and federal leaders have rallied behind us in powerful ways this year,” he said. “I want to thank all of them for their steady leadership throughout the pandemic and for their commitment to students, who will play an essential role in our recovery over the coming years.”