News Archive

Speak Up for Gateway: Support the KCTCS BuildSmart Proposal

Dear Friends, Employees and Students of Gateway Community & Technical College:

Recently I communicated to you a summary of Governor Steve Beshears budget recommendations as they relate to postsecondary education and particularly to Gateway Community & Technical College. Last week Governor Beshear held a press conference to address a particular proposal in his budget called KCTCS BuildSmart Investment for Kentuckys Competitiveness. I want to give you some additional details about the BuildSmart initiative so that you are well informed on the topic.

The BuildSmart proposal will allow the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to use agency bonds for the first time ever to fund 16 much-needed capital projects throughout KCTCS. The Governors proposal authorizes KCTCS to sell its own agency bonds of $145.5 million dollars to pay for 75% of the cost of the building projects at each KCTCS college. The public universities in Kentucky have the authority to sell their own bonds to pay for needed building projects, but KCTCS has not had that authority. As the Governor said at the press conference, This proposal gives our two-year career and technical schools the same authority to invest in their campuses (as the four year colleges).

The KCTCS bonds will be repaid over time from a pool of funds generated by a mandatory facilities fee of $8 per credit hour charged to every KCTCS student. While the exact details of the fees implementation are still being developed, the current thought is to phase it in over the next two years. That would mean that beginning in the fall 2014 term a $4 per credit hour facilities fee would be added with the additional $4 per credit hour added in 2015-16. For a full-time student taking 15 hours, the added cost will be $60 per term next year and $120 per term the following year.

The second part of the proposal is to have local communities served by KCTCS colleges provide 25% of their community's project cost. These funds will come from private sources as well as restricted college funds. In all, KCTCS colleges and their respective communities will provide $48.5 million, making a total of $194 million in funds available for critical facilities across the Commonwealth.

For Gateway, KCTCS BuildSmart means that KCTCS would sell bonds worth $11.25 million for Gateway's Urban Metro Campus. With a 25 percent required match or $3.75 million from private funds, the initiative would raise a total of $15.0 million for Gateway. You should be aware that the development of that campus is the top priority in our capital budget request recommended by our colleges Board of Directors, endorsed by the colleges Foundation Board and approved by the KCTCS Board of Regents.

I met with some of our student leaders at Gateway last week and sought their counsel related to the propose facilities fee. During our discussion, I shared with them two graphs that summarize a cost study conducted by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The results are very interesting and important to understand.

Over the nine-year period between 2004-2012, the average out-of pocket costs per full-time equivalent student at Kentuckys public research universities (UK and UofL) increased by 76.6%.

Over the same period, the out-of-pocket costs for per full-time equivalent student at regional institutions like Northern Kentucky University increased by 83.7%.

Over the same period for KCTCS colleges like Gateway, the out-of-pocket costs per full-time equivalent student DECREASED by 175.3%!

Simply put, the average full-time equivalent student at a KCTCS college in 2003 paid about $392 a year from their own pocket after federal and state grants were applied to their bills (aid does not include loans). In 2012, the average fulltime equivalent student at a KCTCS college paid ZERO out-of-pocket after the federal and state grants were applied (i.e. Negative $295 on the graph). For these students on average they were able to use the excess financial aid to pay for critical educational expenses like childcare and transportation.

A second graph showed that for KCTCS students in 2011-12 (the most recent year for which data is available) the federal, state and merit based financial aid EXCEEDS the basic costs of attendance (tuition, books and fees) at KCTCS colleges. This is true for persons in every income quartile but one. Only traditional-aged students who come from families with the highest incomes have needs greater than financial aid largely due to these students being ineligible for grants.

This study indicates that the proposed facilities fee will be absorbed by financial aid for the vast majority of KCTCS students. As pointed out by one student, Gateway's tuition is 60% less than the regional universities to begin with and even with a fee, the cost to attend Gateway will be so much less that the universities. Another student suggested that the impact of the fee will mean more economic development and more jobs for the local communities. A third student stated that fees at the universities are higher and more numerous.

What can you do to help? Speak Up for Gateway! You can tell your legislators to support the KCTCS BuildSmart initiative. Look for information on how to do that on the campuses over the next seven to eight weeks. Or, you can contact directly your representative or senator by calling the Legislative Message line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave a message that you Support the KCTCS BuildSmart proposal and you want them to advocate and vote for it to stay in the budget.

The legislators who represent our area make up what is called the Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus. The caucus has another meeting that offers supporters of Gateway Community & Technical College an opportunity to advocate for the college, our students and the communities we serve. The meeting will be on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. at the METS Center (3861 Olympic Blvd., Erlanger). I urge you to consider attending the meeting to show your support for Gateway and higher education in general.


P.S. Resources to help you contact your legislator and the Governor