WKU Passes $242 Million Budget

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Western Kentucky University's Board of Regents unanimously passed a $242 million budget for the 2004-2005 fiscal year beginning July 1.

The budget includes $17 million in additional revenue from last year's mid-year tuition increase, which will help fund a three percent pay raise for faculty members.

About $55 million in campus construction and improvement projects remain in limbo until a budget is passed, though school officials reiterated Friday their hopes that a deal could still be done by June 30.

There is a potential silver lining for WKU; state officials are projecting an extra $300 million in revenue for this budget cycle, and President Dr. Gary Ransdell says higher education institutions deserve a refund.

"We have suggested that some of that money be returned to higher education to offset the cuts we took in January and February to help the state achieve a balanced budget by June 30," Ransdell said.

The university will move forward with its plan to raise tuition by 17.5 percent over each of the next two years, despite student concerns over being priced out of the education market. Dr. Ransdell says the price hikes are reasonable in the administration's view: "We're still well within our market, we're still well below the median of our benchmark institutions, we're still right in the market with universities in Kentucky."