When the University of Louisville’s fall semester begins, students will pay more tuition than ever before.
UofL was able to offset a nearly $2.1 million annual cut in state funding, in part, by raising tuition for the upcoming academic year by 5 percent.
This means in-state students attending UofL will pay $10,236 for the 2014-15 school year.
The tuition hike is the maximum yearly increase allowed by the Council on Postsecondary Education, which set the parameters of raising tuition to exceed no more than 8 percent over the next two years. This means the 2015-2015-16 school year could have no more than a a 3 percent tuition increase.
The Council on Postsecondary Education must now approve UofL’s tuition hike at a meeting next month.
UofL President James Ramsey said students are “nowhere near” the point of overpaying for their education, despite the tuition increase.
“The best investment you can make is in education,” he said.
He said higher education is an “interestingly priced product.
“You price it to the consumer that can most afford to pay, then you discount it for everyone else,” he said.
As long as the state of Kentucky continues to make higher education a private good, rather than a public good, tuition hikes are inevitable, Ramsey said.
“Prices go up,” he said. “Nobody likes it, we don’t like it, but we are held accountable by the state to achieve certain goals, but then we’re cut.”
UofL’s Student Government Association president, Carrie Mattingly, was the only voting member of the Board of Trustees to vote against the hike.
“When I talk to students having trouble making those tuition payments themselves or they’re taking out more loans to pay for those, it is just really, really troubling,” she said. “As a student liaison to the board, I thought I should vote against it.”
Tram Nguyen, a 19-year-old freshman at UofL, said students will be forced to borrow more loans and accumulate more debt if tuition keeps increasing.
“They say getting an education is going to benefit you, but with all this tuition rising students are in debt before they become successful,” he said.
The increases are necessary, university officials said, in order to help make up for rising operating costs and shrinking appropriations from the state.
State appropriations made up nearly 60 percent of UofL’s general fund a decade ago, Ramsey said. Presently, it accounts for 33 percent.
He said state appropriations are the fifth largest source of income to UofL.
But despite ongoing state budget cuts to Kentucky’s higher education system, UofL will begin the 2014-2015 school year with its biggest bankroll in history. Thanks to higher tuition rates and increased revenue from the UofL Foundation, the university’s total operating budget will top out at $1,237,412,600.
That is nearly $1 million more than the operating budget was in 2013-2014. The increase in tuition revenue for the 2014-2015 school year will account for more than $10 million.