Whitesburg KY

UK trustees hike tuition


The University of Kentucky’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to again hike in-state tuition by 9 percent, and other colleges and universities were planning similar increases even amid a warning from the leader of a state board that must approve the proposals.

UK president Lee Todd said the increase in education costs and fees, including a nearly 7 percent hike for out-of-state residents and a 9 percent increase for Kentucky residents the second straight year, was necessary because of state budget cuts to education at a time schools were anticipating more money, not less.

“There has been a lot of parents in Kentucky and other states who didn’t go to college and read the headlines in the newspaper that say, ‘Double digit tuition increases,'” Todd said. “It begins to work on the mind psychologically, so they say, ‘Well, we can’t afford that, so we’d better do something different.'”

Todd and the trustees pointed out the university avoided a more disastrous tuition hike that could have been as high as 18 percent by finding places to tighten its own belt. However, they warned that can’t continue if the state’s flagship school is to progress on its path toward becoming a top- 20 research institution.

“We are really fortunate we were able to maintain that 9 percent,” trustee Steve Branscum said.

Nick Phelps, UK’s student trustee, cast the lone vote against the tuition hike. Although he supports Todd’s top 20 vision and understands the financial crunch the state faces, Phelps said UK is at the brink of becoming unaffordable to students.

“I feel we’re getting close, very close, if we’re not already there,” Phelps said. “We have a statewide mandate to be in the top 20, and Dr. Todd has no plans of cashing that in. If that’s going to be the case, you could see a few more years of this.”

Russ Williams was the lone trustee to speak about the tuition plan during Tuesday’s meeting, and he used that time to underscore his support for the top-20 proposal – even when times are tough.

“At some point this board might want to reaffirm our commitment to that plan, just to let the people of the commonwealth know nothing has changed,” Williams said. “We’re still going to do the best we can, and improving the lives of Kentuckians is most on our minds.”

Next week, the University of Louisville’s trustees are expected to also vote on a 9 percent hike. Other increases for universities in the state range from 6 percent to 9.68 percent.

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