Murray State University is considering a five percent tuition increase next academic year. President Bob Davies presented the plans at a tuition and fees forum Thursday afternoon.
The Board of Regents will approve the tuition rate on April 21 and unless they object the five percent increase seems likely. “I’m leaning very much leaning towards using the whole five percent. If I had to make my recommendation today I would say the whole five percent," Davies said.
Of the five percent, three percent would cover fixed costs. The budget is being reduced by around $1.1 million through specific units and another $3 million “at the macro level,” Davies said.
The other 2% would be used for non-recurring, one-time expenditures like infrastructure needs (electrical grid).
Moving forward with the 5% increase, in allocating the 3%, Murray State would still have a $2.2 million decrease in revenues. The number of students this year compared to last year is down, which led to a $4.5 million decline in this year. Murray State is also facing $1.8 million in fixed cost increases.
Davies said Murray State’s pressure points include declining state appropriations, increasing pension costs and an increase in fixed costs.
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education approved tuition caps for state universities last week. The decision was based on projected pension cost increase and further state appropriation decline in the next biennium. The caps vary between universities in an effort to close the tuition divide.
Using an average pension cost increases over the last 10 years, Murray State’s projected increase would be 2%. Using projected increases next year and considerations for the next biennium budget, it was recommended to Murray State to have an increase cap by 5%.
Davies said he wants to maintain affordability and not be ‘priced out of the market’ and wants to focus on the ‘value’ of a Murray State education. Despite the increase, Murray State still remains one of the more affordable public institutions in the state and surrounding region from a tuition cost standpoint.
MSU is also working on a budget that includes a more than four-million dollar reduction, though Davies assured that cuts wouldn’t be as drastic as in recent years.
The cuts aren’t as big as last year, he said, and public forums will be held in the next few weeks. “There are things we can do with the budget that does not necessitate laying people off, closing programs, those types of things.”
A handful of students attended the forum and when asked about the proposal, they all expressed an understanding and general acceptance of the increase.
Davies showed charts that outlined the different in student cost at the 5% cap. Murray State shifted the tuition model in the summer of 2016 involving fixed versus variable scholarships.