Reasons for rising costs of higher education discussed by state legislators

06/15/2018 11:57 AM

FRANKFORT – A discussion on how to improve student retention rates at Kentucky’s community and technical colleges turned into a debate on factors contributing to the high cost of education at Kentucky’s 4-year universities during Thursday’s meeting of the Program Review and Investigations Committee.

While exploring ideas for future discussion, Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, suggested a look at how to improve the low student retention rates at Kentucky’s 16 community and technical colleges.

That suggestion led to a response by Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, pointing out that some of the reasons for the rising cost of higher education at the state’s universities are the number of newly constructed dorms, like those at the University of Kentucky, and the number of 6 figure salaries for university employees.

“When I was working with the CPE, I asked Mr. King, I want to know how many people at the University of Kentucky make $250,000 or more,” Seum said. “Well, I got back nine and a half pages of them.”

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, blasted the passing of the 2018 state budget which continued cuts to higher education as a reason for increased costs for students.

“With this 2018/2020 budget, we are now funding higher education at the same rate we did in 1994,” Thomas said.

Thomas also defended UK’s state of the art dorms and high salaries for some of their employees.

“These colleges have to compete for good students all across the nation and to do that you have to have good faculty and good resources,” Thomas said. The salaries “So, if UK wants to compete and be a top notch and highly respected, progressive, forward thinking university in the 21st century, you have to attract people that will come to the university to allow the University of Kentucky to do that. I have no problem with the salaries that UK pays to be competitive in the 21st century.”

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