Cardinal on Louisville's campus

The University of Louisville | Photo by Jeremy Chisenhall

University of Louisville faculty will see their first raise in two years while students will face their second tuition increase in a row in the school’s new budget.

Trustees unanimously approved its $1.2 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year Thursday afternoon. It calls for a 2.5% tuition and fee increase for most students to generate $9.2 million in revenue, not to cover state funding cuts, but mostly to cover a 2% raise for faculty and staff.

“We thought long and hard about what other options existed, but as you can see we’ve really exhausted every possible source and (a tuition increase) was the last item to be included,” Rick Graycarek, with UofL’s budget office, told trustees.

Faculty and staff have not received a raise or cost-of-living adjustment since 2017. Many faculty members credited the lack of pay increases, in addition to grappling with university-wide budget cuts and high salaries for officials, as a reason for continuously low morale.

The 2% pay increase, effective in January 2020, may help retain talent and keep the university competitive, President Neeli Bendapudi has said.

But the raise comes on the backs of students, whose tuition will increase the most it can this year under state law. Kentucky universities can raise tuition and fees a total of 6% across two years; UofL’s increases last year equaled out to 3.5%.

Full-time, in-state undergraduate students will pay $296 more a year — $272 for tuition and $24 in fees. Out-of-state students will pay $676 more. Financial aid available through the university will increase alongside the tuition rate. (In-state undergraduates technically see a 2.4% tuition increase, while all other student groups see 2.5%.)

UofL’s tuition has continuously risen over the past decade with the exception of the 2017-18 school year when officials froze tuition rates for one year.

Online courses — which typically hold flat while in-person tuition increases — will jump 8.7% in cost, adding about $42 per credit hour. UofL’s online programs have become more popular over the past six or seven years, officials told trustees at a committee meeting in May.

The average tuition increase nationally is around 3%, UofL officials said.

As state appropriations for higher education have decreased over the past decade, tuition and fees have increased to cover the gap. Tuition makes up around two-thirds of revenue in UofL’s general fund, which makes up around 42% of the school’s total budget, while state funding accounts for about one-fourth.

Referred to as a “status quo” and a “plain vanilla” budget by trustees and officials, the new budget is similar to past budgets outside of the raises and tuition increase. Officials said they didn’t want to allocate money to special projects while UofL develops its strategic plan. The plan is set to be finalized this summer and launched in August.