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Archives: Education
Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2004 1:40 PM EDT

Illustration by DAN ACKLEY/ChallengerNKY.com

Votruba Defends Tuition Hike

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS A 16.7 percent tuition hike set for the 2004-05 school year is the largest increase in the history of Northern Kentucky University. But NKU President James Votruba says percentages do not tell the whole story.

The NKU Board of Regents approved a budget May 12 that will raise in-state tuition from $3,744 to $4,338 per year, beginning next fall. Expansion of programs and escalating fixed costs, such as benefits for personnel, are part of the reason for the hike. In addition, NKU has consistently received less state funding than other public universities in the state.

Still, Votruba disputes local media reports that the tuition boost is the highest increase in the region. While the percentage of the increase is high, he says, NKU tuition itself is low, so the figures can be deceiving. While NKU's tuition will go up about $584 per year, other area colleges will have equal or higher increases. The University of Cincinnati, for instance, will raise tuition $756 per year from $7,623 to $8,379. The University of Kentucky will go from $4,546 to $5,164, an increase of $618.

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"When you put it all together, you could easily say that NKU has the lowest increase in the region," Votruba says. "To students, percentage means nothing. Students spend dollars."

Too many dollars, some students say. Kristi Fryman, a freshman at NKU, is disappointed in the university's decision to raise tuition. Fryman was planning to pay for her sophomore year with income from her part-time job. Now she'll have to take out loans.

Susan Fleck, a junior, agrees. She says she believes any potential growth for the school should be secondary to the needs of the current students.

"Students come here because it's cheap," she says.

For the Students

Votruba says the needs of current students are paramount, and the tuition increase will help keep class sizes small and teacher-to-student ratio high.

But he adds that the ultimate goal is to bring NKU up to speed when it comes to state funding.

"We're the newest university in the commonwealth," Votruba says. He believes the university has not had the political influence to get the cash needed to fund the growth of the school.

Votruba has faith in Gov. Ernie Fletcher, despite the fact that the state has yet to pass a budget.

"We've seen some movement," he says. "The governor has said that he intends to correct the underfunding (of NKU)."

Posted 5-19-2004
Revised 5-20-2004

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