Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Executive Division > Bulletin 12-16-08
Dec. 16, 2008
Amid the continuing speculation in the media about state budget
cuts likely to impact Fort Hays State University, I wanted to be sure all of you were
aware that your good work over the past several years has been recognized.
Three recent news reports -- an editorial on Monday in The Topeka Capital-Journal;
the lead editorial in The Kansas City Star on a recent Sunday; and a detailed story
in KansasLiberty.com, an online journal -- commend FHSU for the cost-saving efficiencies
that we have put into place since 2001. Your efforts put us into a strong position going
into the legislative deliberations on budget cuts.
As you read and hear about possible scenarios, please remember that final details will
not be clear until the Kansas Legislature makes decisions in April or May next year.
I will continue to give you updates in these Budget Bulletins at least monthly. Also, I
urge you to monitor the link on the FHSU home page, called "Budget Watch," that includes
these Budget Bulletins and other pertinent information. I invite you to use the Budget
Watch site to post creative ideas and thoughtful suggestions for how the university can
deal with these budget challenges. You may also post questions, and we will provide
answers as quickly as possible.
With all the negativity in the media, I'm pleased to share these positive reports with you.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond
The Capital-Journal Editorial Board
Published Tuesday, December 16, 2008Higher Education -- Back to booksUniversities must learn new ways -- other than increasing tuition -- to keep going
The state's major colleges haven't been shy about asking for more funding
in recent years.
The state Board of Regents did so as recently as September, recommending that the state
increase funding for higher education by 4 percent despite the slumping economy.
Three months earlier, the board approved tuition increases for the state's six Regents
universities. Nothing new there. College costs have risen sharply in recent years, so much
so that a national study indicated the average family spent 28 percent of its income to
send a student to a four-year school in Kansas in 2007 as opposed to 18 percent in 1999.
Now, though, it looks as if the university system may have squeezed students, their parents
and Kansas taxpayers all it can. Considering the state is facing a potential $141 million
budget deficit by next June -- a hole that could grow to $1 billion by June 2010 -- the
request for a 4 percent increase looks like a pipe dream. In fact, the Regents already have
complied with a request by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for state agencies to submit proposals
for budget cuts.
Meanwhile, the economic downturn is bound to leave fewer students and families able to afford
current tuition and fees, much less support further increases.
For better or worse, the financial crisis is forcing major colleges to take steps they should
have being taking to a much greater extent in better times -- reducing expenses and finding
other ways to keep down the costs of higher education.
Regents statistics show significant growth in operating expenditures at the state universities.
Expenditures zoomed from $454.5 million to $620.9 million at the University of Kansas from
fiscal year 2002 to FY 2007, an increase of 36.6 percent. At K-State, the increase was from
$432.2 million to $564.8 million -- 30.7 percent.
Why? It certainly wasn't because of a large influx of students. Headcount at KU dropped
0.4 percent over those years, while K-State's enrollment rose 2.4 percent.
As the universities' budgets got bigger while the size of their student bodies held steady,
the proportion of the universities' operating expenses covered by the state declined.
To a large degree, the universities made up the gap with tuition increases.
KU increased its tuition and fees a whopping 89.5 percent from the 2003 academic year to
this year. K-State cranked its tuition and fees 81.1 percent.
Too bad those universities and others didn't follow the path of Fort Hays State University,
which kept increases in student costs to a relatively modest 44.1 percent. How? By growing
its enrollment and adopting several cost-cutting measures.
Figures compiled by the Regents show that FHSU students pay slightly more than half the
amount their counterparts at KU spend on tuition and fees each semester. The exact numbers
are $1,678 at Fort Hays versus $3,300 at KU.
None of this is to suggest the state's higher education system doesn't deserve support. It does
for an array of reasons, from the educational and career opportunities it provides to thousands
of Kansans to the money it pumps into the state economy.
For an idea of potential economic development power of the system, look no further than the
recent preliminary decision by government authorities to award the National Bio-and Agro-Defense
Laboratory project to Kansas State University. K-States animal research facilities and staff
were a key calling card in the state's successful bid to land the $450 million project.
It's also worth noting that tuition and fees at KU and K-State are cheaper than the average
at other major universities.
Still, the costs are rising much faster than inflation, and they must be reined in.
Taxpayers and those who pay tuition can only be expected to do so much.
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