Plan includes expanded scholarship capacity, health insurance support
WKU’s Board of Regents today (June 26) approved a $396.5 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 that includes a $2 million state appropriation for the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, which will allow the Academy to grow to 200 students by Fall 2017. The budget also expands scholarship offerings to more students and provides additional funds for employee health insurance and retirement benefits.
Nearly half of the budget revenue will come from tuition and fees, which increase 3.7 percent ($171 per semester) for Kentucky undergraduates. The fee increase includes funds for design of a new parking structure, which is to be located in the Creason Drive Lot. The plan must first be approved by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2016.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead said that additional tuition revenue was allocated to cover increases in fixed costs.
“Increases in pension costs, employee health care, workers compensation, and maintenance and operation of facilities are among the expenses that we have to cover with tuition,” Mead said. “And in order to advance strategic priorities, we have chosen to reallocate $7.9 million within the existing budget.”
“The majority of the budget reallocation is supporting student scholarships,” WKU President Gary A. Ransdell said. “We want to ensure that WKU is accessible and affordable to all students and that we continue to be the destination point for Kentucky’s best students. To achieve that we have expanded our scholarship offerings to highly motivated and engaged students making above a 25 ACT and 3.3 GPA and to KCTCS transfer students. As a result we are seeing significant growth in the number of these highly engaged, highly motivated students coming to WKU.”
“These are typically the students who fall in the gap between what federal financial aid and student loans provide,” said Brian Meredith, Chief Enrollment and Graduation Officer at WKU. “We know these students are going to be successful, which is why we are making a strong effort to get them to WKU with these awards.”
“What is most disappointing about this budget is that we are not able to fund salary increases for our employees,” Dr. Ransdell said. “As we enter the budget discussions with the General Assembly early next year, our highest priority will be to convince them to resume funding for higher education. Kentucky is one of only three states to cut university funding for two consecutive years. That’s a trend we simply must reverse.”
- The total budget will increase 1.1 percent.
- Tuition accounts for 49.2 percent of revenue, or $195.1 million.
- State appropriations for operating make up 17. 6 percent of revenue, of $69.7 million.
- Scholarship capacity will expand by $6.3 million.
- Additional efficiencies will be achieved by reallocating one-time and permanent funds of about $7.9 million.
- The budget includes additional funding for WKU’s health insurance program.
- The budget also includes an additional $2 million state appropriation for the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science to increase the number of students from 120 to 200.
Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295
Posted with permission from WKU News