The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has approved tuition and fee ceilings that limit the amount public colleges and universities can charge in-state, under-graduate students.
The CPE capped tuition increases at six percent over the next two academic years for the state's comprehensive and research universities. Schools would not be allowed to raise tuition more than four percent in any one year.
For the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, tuition hikes will be limited to $12 per credit hour, with an $8 per credit hour maximum allowed per year.
According to the CPE, the tuition increases will only partially offset a $25.6 million reduction in state funding in 2018-19. That's coupled with more than $40 million in projected increases in pension contributions paid for by employers, and a $31.8 million increase in campus fixed costs.
“Our goal is to maintain access and affordability for students and their families, while providing flexibility to campus leaders to respond to budgetary challenges," Council President Bob King stated in a news release. "We believe these tuition ceilings strike the right balance."
The CPE will allow universities to request an exemption from the ceilings in the 2019-2020 academic year if there are changes in financial circumstances that greatly impact campus budgets.
President Timothy Caboni says it’s too early to say if Western Kentucky University will do as some other schools will this fall and hold the line on tuition. The University of Louisville, Morehead State University, and Eastern Kentucky University have announced tuition freezes for next school year.
Following his investiture ceremony on Friday, Dr. Caboni said that reduced state funding and fixed cost increases challenge WKU’s budget, but said the university will try to keep tuition down.
"We've made a policy decision as a commonwealth that the cost of higher education is evermore born by families and students," Caboni told WKU Public Radio. "We're going to do everything in our power to keep those costs down. At the same time, we have not just fixed costs increases, but we have faculty and staff that need to have meaningful raises."
WKU and the state's other public universities will submit their 2018-2019 tuition proposals to the CPE for approval in June.
WKU has been hit hard by nearly a decade of budget cuts, including a 6.25 percent reduction over the next two years. The university recently trimmed $15 million in March by eliminating 119 positions and re-organizing several regional campuses. The school has announced another $16 million in cuts, although details have not yet been made public.