Kentucky State University officials are working to offset an $8.1 million hole in its budget next year – the biggest President Mary Sias says she’s seen since taking the helm.
Sias, now in her eighth year as president, told the Board of Regents on Friday that the university faces a $1.6 million cut in state revenue and increased operating expenses.
The university has a new business program and an expanding agriculture operation that need more staff, and fixed costs like utilities and fuel are going up.
Sias and her staff have whittled the $8.1 million deficit to $1.3 million, and will spend the next two weeks balancing the budget. The university’s budget is $58.6 million for the current year.
“We are now to the bone – we have cut all we can cut,” she said. “But we will come back to you with a balanced budget.”
The plan includes using $2.5 million in reserves and rollover funds, Sias said.
KSU will also count on collecting 100 percent of tuition, when in the past officials have used a more conservative estimate of 85 percent. Sias said the university ramped up efforts last year and collected 102 percent of money owed.
Employee health insurance deductibles will double, in some cases, to keep premiums down. Sias said there would be no raises for employees, and hiring will freeze except for “absolutely essential” positions.
The university will push to increase freshman enrollment and promote transfers to KSU to generate income.
Rising tuition will also boost KSU’s revenue. The Board of Regents voted 9-1 Friday for a 5 percent tuition increase – the maximum allowed by the state.
Student regent Demetrick Coleman, who serves as the student body president, cast the lone no vote. He led a group of classmates to the Capitol rotunda in February to protest cuts to higher education in the state budget.
Students from universities statewide told legislators cuts to state funding and rising tuition mean students bear a bigger burden for their education than ever.
In-state KSU students will pay $254 per credit hour for up to 12 hours – usually equal to four classes. Each credit hour beyond that costs $127, a 50 percent discount. A student taking 15 hours pays $3,429 per semester, and 12 hours costs $3,048.
Out-of-state undergraduates will see hourly rates increase from $581 to $610.
Students will pay more for on-campus housing – up $50 per semester for single and double rooms, and $20 more for suite-style and triple occupancy dorms. Housing costs will range from $1,600 for a triple room to $2,170 for a single.
Health insurance is also going up by 90 percent to $1,005 per student.