This is how much tuition has increased this fall for students at Wayne State College and other state schools following the Nebraska State College System’s Board of Trustees meeting here on June 18.
At the same meeting, the NSCS board also raised the salary of Chancellor Stan Carpenter 9 percent to more than $255,000 per year.
Students now pay $153 per credit hour, and online-only tuition has increased from $225 per credit hour to $246.
Undergraduate tuition had been frozen at $140 per credit hour for the last three years. This year the tuition freeze expired.
“The college only has two sources of income; state taxes and tuition. When one is low, the other will need to make up for it,” said Matt Mullins, WSC’s student trustee on the board.
On average, Mullins said, colleges often raise their tuition 3 percent a year. But because Wayne State College was on a tuition freeze for three years, it was behind on the average tuition rate.
“It was necessary because the college is growing and without the increase, programs would have had to been cut,” Mullins said.
Not all board members agreed with this decision. Trustee Bob Engles was the only member to vote against this tuition increase.
“I was opposed to that increase, and in my mind I felt it was difficult to justify. I don’t think we as a board tried to develop efficiencies through the system so we could make that less than it was,” Engles said last week. “I am still bothered by it tremendously.”
The state colleges asked for a 6.35 percent increase to avoid a tuition increase–they got a 3 percent increase this year and next–but they increased tuition 9 percent, according to Sen. Dave Bloomfield’s newsletter on the Nebraska Legislature website.
“Basically, there was a gap of where the state appropriation was and what we needed to continue to run the operation in a way to provide high quality education opportunities for [students], so that lead to a tuition increase,” Carpenter said on Tuesday. “We didn’t cover our costs and so the other option is to cut learning opportunities for our students and that didn’t seem to be a good thing to do.”
Before the June meeting, Carpenter indicated to NBC Nebraska that the tuition increase was not a result to fill a “gap” left from the tuition freeze.
The system board also set the following salaries at the meeting: Randy Rhine, Chadron State College President, increase of 7.5 percent to $184,000; Dan Hanson, Peru State College President, increase of 5 percent for $189,000; Marysz Rames, newly appointed Wayne State College President, $200,000; and Carpenter, NSCS Chancellor increase of 9 percent to $255,000.
Again, it was trustee Engles who questioned the board’s decision to grant Carpenter a 9 percent raise. None of the other NSCS board members returned phone calls regarding this article.
“That [Carpenter’s raise] was done more along the lines to try and develop a level of comparability for other position in higher education. I think it is very unfortunate that his 9 percent increase in salary was voted on and approved at the same meeting that the 9 percent tuition increase was voted on,” Engles said.
Carpenter said on Tuesday that his raise was “based on the relationship between the presidents and chancellor’s salaries.”
Bloomfield, the state senator representing District 17, was critical of Carpenter’s raise in his newsletter on Nebraska Legislature website published after the NSCS’s June board meeting.
“As we struggle to find ways to decrease the tax burden on the people of Nebraska, it seems that we are treating some of the best paid people in the state pretty well at the taxpayers’ expense,” Bloomfield wrote.