PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University will have its lowest tuition increase in nearly 20 years at 2.6 percent.
The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday, approved the university’s tuition proposal for the 2018-19 school year.
“We’re doing everything we can to remove cost as a barrier to a college education,” PSU President Steve Scott said. “Today’s action ensures Pittsburg State remains one of the most affordable in the nation.”
According to a release, the university will raise tuition for full-time in-state undergraduate students by $73 per semester and in-state graduate students will see an increase of $84 per semester.
Undergraduates will pay $2,847 per semester and full-time in-state graduate students will pay $3,280 per semester.
PSU’s 2018 tuition and fees are the lowest in the region when compared to the five universities identified by the KBOR, a release said, and tuition rates remain competitive in the MIAA at “a time when other institutions are having to raise tuition at higher levels due to budget pressures,” the release said.
The “flat-rate” tuition was also taken into consideration.
“Our full-time students don’t pay by the credit hour,” Scott said. “Instead, they pay a flat-rate which allows them to enroll in additional credit hours without paying any additional tuition.
“It’s not unusual for a Pittsburg State student to earn a double major or graduate up to a year early.”
Although Kansas lawmakers partially restored a 2016 budget cut, the “modest tuition bump” is necessary because of annual increases in fixed costs, a release said.
“We anticipate an increase of more than $1.2 million in fixed costs this year,” Scott said. “The partial funding restoration is a small step in the right direction. We’re hopeful it signals a return to Kansas’ past commitment to higher education.”
Last year, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a 2.8 percent tuition increase for all students, which at the time was also the lowest increase the university has experienced since 1999. It cost an additional $76 per semester for full-time undergraduate students — who paid $2,774 for the 2017-2018 school year compared the previous year’s tuition of $2,698.
According to a release, the university and its departments “took strategic steps to tighten spending.” In April, PSU cut 19 positions because of declining revenue and “stagnant state funding, increasing costs and enrollment pressures,” a release said at the time.
Last summer, the university announced the elimination of approximately 35 positions, some of which were from current vacancies and naturally occurring attrition, “it had a direct and significant impact on the low tuition increase the university sought from the board.”
This was because of a multi-million dollar budget gap which resulted from stagnant state funding and a decline in enrollment. In a letter to campus, Scott announced the university was going to cut its budget for the new fiscal year by approximately five percent.
According to PSU Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Howard Smith, the university's state aid is currently at the same level as it was 10 years ago and is working to fit the needs of students to continue to offer affordable quality education.
“Going into this year, we are fully ready and prepared to serve all students on campus … we are always looking for resources and funds to enhance what we’ve got,” he said.
PSU also announced last summer the beginning of new recruitments strategies — which include expanding the “Gorilla Edge” and the Legacy Companion Plan.
The “Gorilla Edge” — which was expanded to Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado — allows students from seven states to attend PSU at 150 percent of in-state tuition.
“This is a good sign and innovative approach to get student and families to attend and mitigate the cost,” Scott said in a release.
According to Smith, the number of students enrolling through the Gorilla Edge option increased since expanding.
Currently, he said the university has added 23 counties to the Gorilla Advantage list, which allows students to pay in-state tuition.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.