A 1% bump in the University of Kentucky’s tuition and student fees, an increase in the hourly minimum wage, a $1,000 bonus for some UK employees and paid family leave were among the topics discussed in Thursday’s UK Board of Trustees budget meeting.
The board approved the proposed $1.5 billion budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the largest in university history. Checking in at $700 million more than that for 2019-2020, the budget includes provisions for UK students, faculty and staff.
According to data from the university, there are currently in excess of 12,000 staff and 2,000 faculty members, with 31,110 students enrolled in the fall 2020-2021 semester — 22,246 of them undergraduates.
▪ For students, the budget will include a 1% increase in tuition and fees in fall 2021, bringing the cost of in-state tuition up from $6,242 to $6,305 and out-of-state from $15,647 to $15,804 per semester.
▪ The budget allows for $148 million to be used toward scholarships and financial aid, including aid for students with unmet financial need. UK officials noted the university provides scholarships or aid to almost 90% of its in-state undergraduates, bringing the average out-of-pocket cost to $1,759 for in-state students.
▪ For UK employees, the budget includes an increase in the hourly minimum wage to $15 beginning in January 2022. This comes in the wake of calls from a recently-formed campus union for a pay raise for UK employees. According to university officials, this is the fourth such increase in six years.
▪ The budget allows for paid family leave for UK staff — two weeks for new child care and one week for parental care. Leave for faculty is handled through a different process.
▪ Employees will receive 2% merit pay increases, to be implemented in January. In July, there will also be a $1,000 bonus for UK staff and faculty members who are full-time, do not work in UK HealthCare and are considered regular employees.
▪ Following a cutback due to COVID, the budget will re-implement the 2-1 retirement match for employees.
▪ The budget changes the deadline to use accrued vacation time for staff members in non-healthcare areas from June 30, 2021, to March 31, 2022. Employees in UK HealthCare may be paid for unused vacation time expiring on Sept. 30, 2021, and any exempt staff members may extend vacation time until June 29, 2022. Vacation time for faculty is handled through a different process.
UK executive vice president for finance and administration Eric Monday said the budget is formed primarily by growth seen in UK HealthCare, which now accounts for almost half of the university’s budget.
After patient care costs (61% of the total budget), research grants and auxiliary services like UK Athletics (14%) and fund balances for emergency uses and building projects (8%), Monday said there is just over $840 million left. This balance accounts for 17% of the budget and is made up of tuition and state funding. It is used for “daily operating expenses of the university,” such as teaching, salaries, scholarships and utilities, according to Monday.
In a statement, Monday said, “When you think about your budget, it’s the best evidence of what you value. It’s the best evidence of what you want to achieve, because it’s where one of the most precious resources — our funds, our students’ money, our state’s money — are invested. And the question is, what do you want to achieve? For this institution, as President Capilouto has said, we invest in our students and our people because that’s how we do the most to advance our state.”
In his report before the board of trustees, UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto said the budgetary decisions were made with the goal “to advance Kentucky” in mind. “This is a very special place,” he said of the university.
Meeting topics also included a $22 million gift to the UK College of Medicine from Dr. Michael D. Rankin, a UK alum. The gift, the second-largest in university history, will go toward the construction of a new health education building and scholarships within the college.
Thursday’s meeting was the last one held with David Blackwell as the university’s provost, following Capilouto’s Jan. 19, 2021, announcement that Blackwell would not be returning the following year.