How high is too high?

Published:

Despite millions of dollars in new money for higher education expected to be included in the new state budget, tuition increases at all state universities, technical and community colleges once again are on the rise, in most cases double-digit increases.

That makes the third year of high tuition increases, and at some point, they have to end.

Last week, the Kentucky State University Board of Regents approved a 10.8 percent tuition increase for in-state students and 5.4 percent for non-resident students. In-state KSU students will be paying almost $5,000 a year for tuition. Non-resident tuition will rise to $11,500 a year. Graduate students will see their tuition rise by 13.8 percent to $5,130 a year for in-state residents. Non-resident graduate students will pay $11,970 a year. The increases also include higher fee costs.

None of this includes the cost of housing, food, books and materials.

KSU officials say the higher costs are necessary to pay higher operating costs, especially energy costs for heating university buildings.

The Council on Postsecondary Education is expected to approve all university tuition increases later this month.

Since most KSU students receive some form of financial assistance much of it in the form of loans these annual tuition increases are putting an even greater burden on students at a time when federal student loan funds are being reduced.

The result at KSU and all other state universities is that some Kentucky high school seniors are being priced out of the higher education market. That certainly was not the intention when Kentuckys system of higher education was reformed nearly a decade ago, and it is not the way to increase the number of Kentuckians with a college degree.

Legislators who spent much of the General Assembly session wrangling over how much more money to appropriate to higher education and where that money will come from should spend the next two years coming up with a way to increase the states higher education investment so that the costs to students and their parents are held in check.

Otherwise, too many Kentucky students will find the doors to all those expensive new campus buildings approved this year barred to them because of the expense of getting inside.

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