Bill which would freeze tuition rates at Kentuckys universities dies in committee

02/18/2016 06:43 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would freeze tuition rates at the state’s universities for a 4-year period died in committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 75, sponsored by Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, would require the Council on Postsecondary Education to limit tuition for resident students at the public postsecondary education institutions to the 2015-2016 tuition level for four years and then require tuition increases for the 2019-2020 academic year to be determined in consultation with the General Assembly.

A companion bill, sponsored by Rep Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville, has been introduced in the House.

Seum told members of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday that the universities are ripping the students off by implementing annual tuition increases.

Seum referenced his granddaughters experience as she attended Western Kentucky University.

“She worked in daycare during the day and a beauty shop on the weekends,” Seum said. “Graduates in four years as a grade school teacher with $40,000 of debt. How can that be?”

Seum added, “there’s a lot of cost that’s being dumped on these kids and as I said we’re getting very close to a point where getting a degree is not worth the debt.”

Northern Kentucky University Student Body President Katherine Hahnel spoke against the legislation saying that she feared the resulting freeze would inadvertently affect the education that she would receive.

“It’s my concern that if we continue on this path of cuts and put into place tuition freezes, it will negatively affect the value of my education as well as my peers,” Hahnel said.

Robert King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education says that with the cuts to postsecondary education in the state budget in recent years, a tuition freeze would have devastating economic impact for the universities.

“There have been mandated cost increases in the two pension systems,” King said. “The legislature over the last several years has shifted to the campuses an expense that used to be picked up in the general operating budget of the state which is the general maintenance and operating costs for newly constructed buildings.”

Seum says that he will continue the fight and will bring the bill back in future sessions.


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