Gov. Matt Bevin names 10 appointees to University of Louisville Board of Trustees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In an unusual move, administrators at the University of Louisville have made an advance promise not to increase tuition in the 2017-18 academic year.

The commitment is part of a budget that would retroactively approve the 5 percent tuition increase already implemented for the academic year that started this week.

“We’ve heard our students’ concerns and are working to make the college experience more affordable for them,” U of L spokesman John Karman said in an email Wednesday.

U of L’s combined tuition and fees have gone up every year since 2001-02, according data from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

The commitment to hold tuition flat is contained in documents made public Wednesday in advance of a special meeting of the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

The board, which was thrown into legal turmoil this summer, never approved the 5 percent increase. Before Gov. Matt Bevin abolished the board in June, some trustees instructed administrators to find other ways to cope with declining state support besides saddling students with a 5 percent hike.

The board that Bevin blew up is now back in power after a Frankfort judge issued a temporary injunction blocking Bevin’s changes.

Meanwhile, administrators proceeded with the tuition hike despite the possibility that they could be forced to issue rebates if the trustees ultimately approved a different budget.

In apparent deal to leave this year’s tuition set, administrators pledged to hold rates flat in 2017-18, according to documents the trustees will consider Thursday.

“The university has also adopted a biennial approach to tuition setting and guarantees that tuition rates will not increase in (fiscal year) 2017-18,” according to the board materials.  “As a result, the effective tuition rate over the two-year period is only 2.5%.”

Karman confirmed that interim university President Neville Pinto supports the plan.

The budget also includes a new “credit for credits” program whereby students will get a credit of $526 to be applied to tuition in the following academic year if they complete 30 academic hours. The credit would negate the tuition increase for students who earn the 30 hours per year and who still have hours to earn before graduating.

Larry Benz, chairman of the recently reinstated board, said in a prepared statement that he is "very excited to move forward on a budget that reverses the trend of escalating tuition and gives students the opportunity to actually decrease tuition through the credit for credits program."

He said the plan to be presented Thursday was the product of "unprecedented collaboration" between trustees and Pinto's administration. That collaboration evidently happened behind closed doors as the reinstated board has not held a meeting since the judge's ruling on July 29.

Benz added that the board he leads will also increase faculty pay and "support" the university's effort to a "living wage" for all employees. The proposed budget includes $7.3 million in pay and benefit increases for faculty and staff.

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