Tuition increases needed

Tuition’s going to go up again, and nobody’s happy about it — not even the people who are raising it.

“I don’t like these tuition increases anymore than you do,” University President James Votruba said in the April 16 edition of The Northerner.

No, nobody likes tuition increases, especially a $288 per semester one (that’s $588 if you live out of state). But if Northern Kentucky University’s situation ever justified such a hike, it’s this one.

I’m not saying I like the increase, but NKU has to make up the $3.2 million shortfall from Frankfort’s funding somehow. After Gov. Steve Beshear reduced higher education’s budget, NKU braced itself for more than $8 million in additional proposed cuts. Kentucky’s House filled that void with a 25 cents per pack cigarette tax hike. Beshear had proposed a 70 cents per pack tax increase.

The Senate, however, won out in the end. It still reduced our funding, but only by an additional three percent.

That, in total, amounts about $3.2 million.

As Votruba has said before, a six percent cut is the lesser of several evils.

Now, many students are probably saying to themselves, like several commentators on The Northerner’s Web site, why does tuition have to go up again? After all, we’ve consistently had around nine percent increases every year I’ve been here, including the good ones.

Also, couldn’t Votruba just cut costs? It’s only six percent of part of the university’s funding, after all.

Yes, it’s six percent of the funding of the most underfunded public college in the Commonwealth. It’s six percent of a budget from a school that needs five more Landrum Academic Centers to just reach parity.

It’s six percent from a university that’s 33 percent underbuilt.

That’s also not including that NKU has already cut all but its barebone expenses. Every department removed three percent of its budget when Beshear first announced his cuts.

Consider this: Votruba has said it’s possible that 30 staff members will lose their jobs, and that it’s certain some downsizing will take place.

Thirty people could lose their jobs, and that’s even with the tuition hike.

That also doesn’t include the $1.3 million Votruba is putting toward financial aid, which helps students pay the bills to attend NKU. Or the money he’s planning on using for more faculty, to keep NKU’s small class sizes a reality.

I know, $288 is a lot of money, but before you grab the torches and pitchforks, consider how your school needs to pay for your education. The heating, clean classrooms and (thank God) air conditioning costs money to run and maintain, as does retaining excellent faculty.

I’m not saying that the increase is a good thing, but at least ponder on how NKU can continue offering classes with a $3.2 million cut and without increasing tuition.