Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

CPE balances affordability and flexibility with new tuition rates

July 06, 2021

Student studying

CPE has approved the final tuition rates for public colleges and universities next year, holding increases near historic lows while also helping campuses replenish revenue following the pandemic.

Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System are forgoing rate increases altogether. All other public campuses have adopted rates at or below 2%, complying with the tuition caps that CPE established last month.

"This past year has tested our values like none before, and I'm proud to say that higher education is living up to its commitments," said CPE President Aaron Thompson. "These rates strike the right balance between affordability for students and flexibility for campuses, and I want to thank all of our institutions for holding the line through a difficult time."

Tuition Rate Increases

The rate changes apply to tuition and mandatory fees for resident, undergraduate programs in the 2021-22 academic year. They include:

Last month, the Council adopted ceilings for both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. The move allowed universities to raise tuition up to 3% through 2023 – an average increase of 1.5% each year. However, campuses could not increase rates more than 2% in any one year.

The Council also limited tuition increases at KCTCS to $5 per credit hour over the next two years – equal to 2.7% through 2023. However, KCTCS may only raise the rate by $3 per credit hour in any one year.

Overall, the approved rates for 2021-22 amount to an average tuition and fee increase of 1.2% across the system. That's following a historically low 0.7% average increase in the current year and an average of about 4% per year over the prior decade.

During that time, campuses have faced unprecedented budget challenges related to lower enrollment and cuts to state funding. Fixed and unavoidable costs for campuses are also expected to rise by nearly $117 million next year – about 3.2%. Revenue from next year's tuition increases will only cover about 20% of that need, according to estimates.

Campuses are also grappling with $480 million in added costs and foregone revenue related to the pandemic. Federal relief funds have helped mitigate much of the financial impact. However, the costs and revenue losses at many institutions have exceeded federal awards, and officials expect that gap to continue growing over the next year.

Thompson said the federal relief – along with new funding for campuses in the state budget – was critical to keeping rate increases at a minimum. He praised Kentucky's federal delegation, Gov. Andy Beshear and state lawmakers for their support.

"Our state and federal leaders have rallied behind us in powerful ways this year," he said. "I want to thank all of them for their steady leadership throughout the pandemic and for their commitment to students, who will play an essential role in our recovery over the coming years."

Last Updated: 7/23/2021