Griffin not guilty for tuition hikes

Northern Kentucky University students have been murmuring about a slight increase in tuition that has caused many of them to work longer hours to pay off their bills.

NKU junior Justin Barlow said he believes that the new Griffin Hall caused the increase. “It was hard enough to pay tuition last year,” said Barlow. “The higher tuition had me working extra hours in the summer to make sure I could pay the extra tuition costs, for a building that I have no classes in.”

Barlow’s conclusion had some reason as NKU students have seen a visible increase in tuition costs during the 2010-2011 semesters, while building the new hall.
Compared to 2010-2011 tuition rates, per-semester costs increased by $180 for Kentucky residents, $288 for the metro-rate students, $222 for Indiana students and $540 for non-residents.

The reality is, according to NKU’s 2011-2012 budget, tuition from previous years and a donation of $7 million from Robert Griffin paid for Griffin Hall and its high-tech appliances. Griffin is CEO of Griffin Industries and the namesake of the building.

Ken Ramey, vice president for Administration and Finance, said that the true culprit of the rise in tuition rates isn’t from Griffin Hall, but instead from a general rise of fixed costs, such as utilities and the Kentucky Retirement system.

“The primary reason for the increases every year are fixed costs,” said Ramey. “Our utilities increase every year and the amount the university has to give to the Kentucky Retirement system has increased.”

According to Ramey, the university has to match professors’ contributions to the retirement system. The bursar official said if a professor donates 5 percent of her salary to the retirement system, the university has to match it.

Ken Kline, senior director of the budget office, said that increases in tuition also stem from faculty salary increases, which were given out for the first time in three years. Kline said that the largest share of student tuition goes to professor salaries, which amount to nearly 35 percent of the budget.

NKU’s budget summary also shows that student tuition increases come from other flat costs like some Student Government Association initiatives.

One SGA initiative, listed on the university website, called for a $4-per-credit-hour tuition increase to build and improve upon the existing recreation center. The mandate means a full-time student pays $96 to $120 more for the school year.

Students may feel the rise in costs every year, but NKU students are lucky to go to school here, said Kline.

“The university operates with the lowest funding per student of all four-year institutions in the state, yet continues to deliver a high level of performance.”