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CPE Projects Smallest Tuition Increase In Decades Despite $144M COVID-19 Impact On Campuses

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kyfoward.com

New estimates from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) show COVID-19 has inflicted a staggering financial toll on public colleges and universities.  

CPE President Aaron Thompson provided numbers to state lawmakers in a report to the Interim Budget Review Subcommittee on Education. The report estimates campuses suffered a $144.8 million financial blow in fiscal year 2020 due to the outbreak. That’s equal to 17% of the state general fund dollars allocated to public colleges and universities for the year.

Thompson said the numbers provide only an indication of the coming financial challenges for higher education. 

“We are using this opportunity to advance strategic innovation, and not just wring our hands,” Thompson said. “You are going to see new approaches to academics and student support, and a focus on boosting long-term employment and economic sustainability. Higher education will be the key to getting our economy back on track.”

The budget strains include $75.9 million in pandemic-related costs, such as refunds and credits on housing and dining, technology expenses related to online instruction and the expense of sanitizing facilities. 

Campuses also faced $68.9 million in lost revenue due to impacts on tuition, decreased parking revenue, investment losses, and the cancellation of sporting events, summer programs and other activities.

Meanwhile, state colleges and universities have kept tuition increases at a minimum this year or avoided them altogether. The average increase for fall 2020 is expected to total 0.7%, the smallest increase in decades.

“Even with the lack of resources and funding, our campuses have shown an unwavering commitment to college affordability and the welfare of students,” Thompson said.

Funds from the federal CARES Act have provided $54.5 million for student grants and the same amount for institutions within the state system to help cover COVID-19-related costs.

Thompson said campuses are using the money for housing, dining and parking refunds, technology needs, training for online instruction, personal protective gear, cleaning, virus testing and monitoring.

While the federal dollars have helped stave off an even worse financial outcome, they have still fallen short of covering the pandemic’s impact so far, Thompson said.

 

 

Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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