Higher costs are on the horizon

Starting in the fall semester of 2002, students at Northern Kentucky University will not only pay more in tuition, but they will also find changes in how tuition and fees are paid.

At its March meeting, the Board of Regents, in one motion, voted to increase tuition, institute a new policy of combining tuition and fees known as bundling, and change the per credit hour pricing strategy from bulk pricing to unit pricing.

Unanimous approval of the measures was not reached with regent Betty Pogue abstaining her vote and student regent Katie Herschede, president of the Student Government Association, voting no.

Pogue said she abstained because she disagreed with the unit pricing. She did agree, however with the bundling and tuition increase.

Herschede said the student government disagreed with all three measures.

University president James C. Votruba said the goals of the new pricing policies are to sustain access and affordability, enhance quality, assure market competitiveness and promote equity in cost sharing.

“There are dimensions of excellence that we have to invest in immediately,” stated Votruba. “The need to balance excellence and affordability is a challenge and has to be balanced appropriately.”

Tuition increases will be seen across the board with resident undergraduates receiving a 9.5 percent increase and nonresidents 3.3 percent. Resident law students will pay 7.3 percent more and nonresident law students will see the largest increase of 20.5 percent.

According to Gerald Hunter, vice president for Enrollment and Financial Planning, the dollar amount of increase for resident and nonresident undergraduates is the same at $108 per semester (calculated at the full-time rate). The percentage is different based on the increased amount nonresidents pay. “We don’t want to price NKU out of the market,” said Hunter.

Herschede said the student government passed a resolution that they were not in favor of the 9.5 percent increase although they did not give a figure that they thought was more appropriate.

“The main reason for nonsupport of 9.5 was we’re excluding access a little too much,” said Herschede.

Differences in opinion also surrounded the change from bulk pricing to unit pricing. With bulk pricing, students paid tuition on 12 credit hours with no additional costs incurred for any hours over that. With unit pricing, they will be required to pay for the first 12 hours and an additional $67 for each credit hour over 16, the number of hours needed each semester to complete a degree in four years.

“Now, everything above 12 hours is free,” said Votruba. “We can’t afford to give everything above 13 credits away.”

Another reason for the change, according to Votruba, was to make tuition costs more equitable between part-time and full-time students. “We were asking students at 12 and below to subsidize students at 13 and above,” he said.

“There was great debate within the senate in terms of unit pricing,” Herschede said. Research by the senate showed the change would only affect eight percent of the student population. Among this population, said Herschede, are those students working towards more than one degree.

Pogue opposed the change saying she thought among the eight percent it affected were the universities most outstanding students. “If the student is good, they should be rewarded,” she said.

Curbing course shopping, a practice by students in which they register for many classes initially and then drop certain ones after the first week of classes, was also cited as a reason for instituting per unit pricing.

The student government also opposed bundling. Although the senate did think there were advantages, overall they did not think the pros outweighed the cons.