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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

Stimulus Keeps College Tuition Down

The Kansas Board of Regents says that universities would have had layoffs and many students would have paid higher tuition.

by LORI YOUNT, The Wichita Eagle
November 09, 2009

Photo by Unknown
Students move between classes at Wichita State University.(Photo by Unknown)

With all state universities raising tuition this year, Kansas college students might have suffered sticker shock.

Increases in credit-hour costs could have doubled if not for federal stimulus money.

"They saved our lives," said Jill Docking, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees higher education institutions. "We would've had layoffs at our universities."

The board required colleges to use two-thirds of their stimulus on building maintenance work and one-third on easing the burden of tuition increases on students.

Wichita State University used $1.5 million to provide "stimulus scholarships" to students who are Kansas residents. This meant their credit-hour prices rose 4.5 percent instead of the entire 8.5 percent the university asked for in tuition, WSU president Donald Beggs said.

"The main thing is that stimulus dollars are meant to be spent to help people now," he said.

Fort Hays State University used $536,000 in stimulus scholarships, and Pittsburg State University spent $375,000 in tuition relief, according to the Regents.

The University of Kansas and Kansas State University incorporated their tuition mitigation dollars into their operations budgets, Regents spokesman Kip Peterson said.

The federal aid is a one-time allocation.

"Our concern is what happens when the stimulus money stops?" Docking said. "We've lost more than $100 million in state funding."

Reach Lori Yount at 316-268-6269 or lyount@wichitaeagle.com.