Regents request state support in effort to keep tuition flat again

The Kansas Board of Regents is asking for $95.3 million in support for the 32 public institutions in the Kansas higher-education system.

If approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Laura Kelly, $50 million of that money would go to Kansas’ six state universities.

In response to the Kansas Legislature’s restoration of $34 million in base funding for state universities last year, the Regents called on universities to keep tuition flat for students.

It was the first time in at least 30 years that Wichita State students didn’t see a tuition increase. An in-state undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours at WSU this semester is paying $3,354.30 in tuition.

A Regents press release says KBOR’s request for additional funding next year represents an effort to maintain flat tuition for the second year in a row.

“When you look at state funding, it’s crucial to keep our institutions accessible,” Elaine Frisbie, vice president of KBOR finance and administration, told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Interim President Andy Tompkins told The Sunflower last month that keeping WSU financially healthy will likely be one of the next long-term president’s most difficult undertakings.

“The state hasn’t been generally giving lots of money, and on this side, we have always got the pressure on the student saying, ‘You know, I don’t want any more tuition if I can keep from it,’” Tompkins said.

He said KBOR universities shouldn’t get used to increased financial support from the state.

“We’re in a little better time now where we got a little state aid,” Tompkins said. “We might get some state aid another year, but I’m just telling you, that’s not going to be consistent over a number of years.”

He noted that WSU is already below the market on staff salaries, and keeping on top of facilities needs is always a struggle.

“All of us are going to have to make difficult decisions over time about programmatic efforts — any place that you can look to save some money,” Tompkins said.

He said enrollment will also play a big factor in WSU’s effort to keep college affordable. More students enrolled in more credit hours bring in more money.

The Regents have not yet released official fall enrollment numbers for state universities. At a WSU Board of Trustees meeting Friday, Tompkins said he expects the enrollment report to be released the first week of October.