Ky. state senator wants to freeze tuition and fees at public universities
It borders on criminal. That's what one state senator is saying about the rising cost of going to college, and he has a plan to do something about it.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It borders on criminal. That's what one state senator is saying about the rising cost of going to college, and he has a plan to do something about it.
A bill filed by Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville would freeze tuition and fees at public universities right where they are for four years.
If you go to U of L or any public university and ask about tuition, you'll likely hear this.
“It's a little steep. I wish it was a little cheaper only because I'm struggling, and I haven't gotten a scholarship yet,” said Sophomore Katie Martel.
“So far, with the scholarships I have going, it's not the worst, but it is obviously, it is a good chunk of money,” added Connor Priest, a Junior.
When asked how he managed the expense, Junior Cole Restle cringed.
“Loans and just pile on the debt, really. It's terrible,” he said.
Republican Sen. Dan Seum says enough is enough.
“It borders on criminal what these universities are doing with these kids,” said Seum (R-Louisville).
His bill, SB75, would freeze tuition and fees for four years.
After that, schools would be forced to get permission from the General Assembly to raise them again.
“I think the universities have seen these kids as nothing more than a cash cow,” he said.
Seum says the state supplies about 20 percent of the universities' budgets. He concedes those funds have been cut by more than $165 million since 2008. But Seum claims the increases in tuition and fees have far outpaced the cuts.
“So we've cut their budgets by 165 million. They've increased it on the backs of these kids to the tune of 582 million. Now, that's tuition. This is not fees,” said Seum.
Seum admits he has no idea how the schools spend their money, but hinted at high salaries and extravagant building programs.
There was no immediate reaction from either U of L or UK, but the students are all in.
“Personally, I’d like it. I don't know how it would affect the schools,” said Restle.
“I think just in a sense that I would know what I'm paying for the rest of my time here, and I wouldn't have to keep guessing and adding it up because it only gets worse,” said Martel.
Seum admits the bill faces an uphill battle, with many lawmakers perhaps not willing to take the heat from their favorite school.
Late Tuesday afternoon, University of Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton did issue the following statement:
Ensuring that the Commonwealth’s families can afford and have access to the University of Kentucky is one of our top priorities. To that end, we welcome the discussion about how we can all work together to make college even more affordable and accessible. Our efforts to reduce the barrier of cost are paying off. UK is investing a record $103 million in institutional scholarships and financial aid this year, nearly double what was provided in 2011. The number of first-generation college students has increased as has the number of students eligible for federal Pell grants, a key indicator of financial need. More than half of UK students continue to graduate without debt. Without question, we are steadfastly committed to ensuring access to higher education for Kentucky families and their children and we look forward to discussing how we can continue to make progress in this most important of priorities.
University of Louisville spokesman John Karman also released a statement late Tuesday:
The University of Louisville is committed to making education accessible and affordable for students from all walks of life. We understand the financial burden that tuition can impose on students and their families, and we work hard every day to provide our students with the best education possible at the lowest tuition cost possible. We look forward to working with Sen. Seum and the General Assembly as we continue to work with students every day to help them achieve their goal of a college education.
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