Kustra: Nothing wrong with increasing tuition

Tuition increases aren’t “freezing” prospective students out of Idaho colleges,
President Bob Kustra told legislative budget-writers Monday.

State funding for BSU has remained flat for more than a decade, forcing the
university to shift a greater share of the budget to student tuition and fees. Idaho’s
tuition remains low, relative to other Western states – but the state needs to keep
tracking its tuition costs against its neighbors.

“There’s nothing wrong with Idaho colleges and universities increasing tuition these
days,” Kustra told Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee members.

In 2001-02, BSU received $73.6 million in general fund money from the state,
accounting for 33 percent of the university’s budget. In 2012-13, the general fund
appropriation was $74.1 million, or 18 percent of BSU’s budget.

Student demographics: anecdotes from two campuses

BSU’s student demographic has changed in the past decade. Fewer BSU students are
older, “non-traditional” students. Now, 85 percent of BSU’s students come straight
from high school, and 95 percent are enrolled full-time. As a result, BSU is becoming
less of a commuter school — which makes for a busier campus. Said Kustra: “I
would argue that’s a very good thing.”

Meanwhile, Idaho State University is ramping up its online class offerings, to
accommodate a student body whose average age is 26. Older students need more
flexibility in scheduling classes. In 2011-12, ISU students took 36,461 credit hours
online, President Arthur Vailas told JFAC; in 2009-10, that figure was 24,093.

(Disclosure: Idaho Education News is housed under the Center for School Improvement
and Policy Studies in Boise State University’s College of Education. Its staff members
are BSU employees.)