Enrollment news from the Kansas Board of Regents this year is not good, and it will get worse. Enrollment at the state’s six
universities overall has declined by one percent, a downward trend that is only beginning.
The alarm is not in the data itself – combined university enrollments, at 94,280, are down 890 students compared with enrollments reported in September a year ago. The trouble is in the numbers’ implication.
More and more, people find they can no longer afford the price of a university education. Those who can afford everincreasing
tuition would rather pay, and learn, in another state, one that embraces higher learning, rather than derides it. The same goes for faculty, even administrators. They seek environments that help students and educators ascend, that cultivate a pursuit of knowledge.
For the past four years, the Kansas Legislature has cut millions in funding from Regents’ university budgets; student financial aid funds have been reallocated from public to private “faith-based” institutions, cutting thousands of students from eligibility for tuition aid at public institutions. Salaries and supplies for professors have been frozen or slashed, their profession
mocked as something effete, their mission consigned to insignificance.
At Kansas University, for example, funding this year was cut $9.4 million. In-state tuition has increased 3.6 percent, to
$5,412 per semester. That’s atop a 4.9 percent tuition increase in 2014-15; 5.1 percent in 2012-13; 6.2 percent in 2011-12 and
9.2 percent in 2010-11.
The figures for KU are, on average, in line with similar tuition histories at the state’s five other Regents universities.
– At Kansas State University this year, tuition is up 3.5 percent ($157), to $4,674 per semester; enrollment dropped 620,
to 24,146, a 2.5 percent decline.
– At Wichita State, tuition is up 3.6 percent ($130) to $3,763; enrollment has dropped 508 to 14,495, a 3.4 percent decline.
– Emporia State tuition also is up 3.6 percent ($106) to $3,069; enrollment, at 6,094, is off 20 students, about a third
of a percent.
– At Pittsburg State, tuition is up 3.6 percent ($109), to $3,134; enrollment of 7,244 is off 3.1 percent, down 235 students.
– Fort Hays State University tuition is up 3.2 percent ($71) to $2,305; enrollment, at 14,210, has fallen by 385 students, or
Gov. Sam Brownback and his dominant legislative rubes consider the pursuit of a four-year degree at a state institution
to be a snob deal, a waste of taxpayer aid, although they’re only too glad to help their favorite Bible schools with public funds.
With the Rev. Brownback and his flock now in charge of the money, aid for state universities will continue to get the short
end, with prospective freshmen forced into classes of haves and have-nots: those with money enough to find an education
elsewhere, and those stuck in Kansas, where tomorrow’s lesson plan can be found at the bottom of the governor’s collection
– JOHN MARSHALL