LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2013) ― More than a year ago, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and the Board of Trustees sent a clear message: one of UK's top priorities must be remaining affordable and accessible to students across the state.
In fact, the decision ― to hold tuition and mandatory fees to a 3 percent increase for resident students and 6 percent for non-resident students ― has been one of the primary strategic drivers for the $2.7 billion budget the Board of Trustees approved Tuesday.
Moreover, even as tuition has increased in recent years in the face of more than $50 million in cuts to annual state appropriations, the university also has invested significantly more in scholarship and financial aid. Since fiscal year 2008, UK-funded scholarships and financial aid have grown from $48 million to a proposed $75 million in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The result of the focus on affordability and accessibility is that more than 85 percent of Kentucky students at UK last year received financial aid that did not have to be repaid, according to figures the university released Tuesday. That includes UK-sponsored scholarships and state and federal aid that are available such as KEES dollars and Pell Grants. About 50 percent of the overall aid provided to students is awarded by the university through scholarships, gifts and endowments.
Significantly, the out-of-pocket expense for tuition and mandatory fees for a Kentucky student in fall 2012 who received some aid was $1,211 on average. Tuition costs were $4,838 per semester last year, and the average aid package for 85 percent of the resident students was $3,627.
"At UK, we provide high-quality education from leading faculty and staff that prepares our students for lives of leadership, meaning and purpose," Capilouto said. "At the same time, we are providing an education that is accessible and affordable. Families and their children are making an investment in their futures when they come to UK. We are clearly working to ensure that investment is a wise one that pays off."
One reason for the focus on affordability is clear: students with a college degree are less likely to be unemployed and will likely earn significantly more.
Another related issue that has received national attention is debt levels that students and families face because of the cost of higher education.
"Without question, accessibility and affordability are critical issues for higher education and for our country," Capilouto said. "And without question, the University of Kentucky is working to ensure that the high value of an education at UK is matched by a commitment to keep costs down.
"We are making substantial investments in our facilities and our people ― the intent is to maximize opportunities for our students and to enhance the research and service we provide that transforms the communities we serve. But we also are making investments that ensure affordable access to that education. After all, we know we are educating our state's future."