Tuition hikes on the way for UA | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuition hikes on the way for UA

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2011 at 11:56 AM

University of Arkansas System institutions will propose their budgets for the upcoming year at the UA Board of Trustees meeting this Friday in Pine Bluff. Those proposals will include tuition and fee hikes to cover increasing costs, according to a press release from UA System Director of Communications Ben Beaumont. From the release:

UA System colleges and universities will ask for tuition increases to help pay for items such as facility maintenance, technology needs, rising benefit costs, new faculty members and other costs associated with increasing student enrollments.

“We must continue to keep tuition as reasonable as possible while maintaining quality at our institutions,” said Dr. B. Alan Sugg, president of the UA System. “It’s never easy to raise tuition, but I believe these proposed increases are necessary in an environment of rising costs, flat state appropriations and significantly increasing enrollment.”

A significant portion of campus fee increases will be dedicated to facility maintenance. All UA campuses have proposed new or increased fees to fund increasing maintenance costs. Currently, the only state funds that higher education institutions dedicate to construction and maintenance are provided through General Improvement Fund appropriations, which have declined in recent years.

The proposed changes can be seen here. For example, tuition and fees per credit hour at UA-Fayetteville will go from $225.58 in Fall 2010 to $239.11 in Fall of 2011. Full release on the jump.

News Release
May 16, 2011

UA campuses to propose budgets to board

LITTLE ROCK — Expecting no new state funding to cover increasing costs, University of Arkansas System institutions will propose budgets for the 2012 fiscal year to the UA Board of Trustees at a meeting on Friday in Pine Bluff.

UA System colleges and universities will ask for tuition increases to help pay for items such as facility maintenance, technology needs, rising benefit costs, new faculty members and other costs associated with increasing student enrollments. Proposals for each institution are included on the attachment.

“We must continue to keep tuition as reasonable as possible while maintaining quality at our institutions,” said Dr. B. Alan Sugg, president of the UA System. “It’s never easy to raise tuition, but I believe these proposed increases are necessary in an environment of rising costs, flat state appropriations and significantly increasing enrollment.”

A significant portion of campus fee increases will be dedicated to facility maintenance. All UA campuses have proposed new or increased fees to fund increasing maintenance costs. (See Figure B on the attachment.) Currently, the only state funds that higher education institutions dedicate to construction and maintenance are provided through General Improvement Fund appropriations, which have declined in recent years.

UA campuses have received $9.8 million in General Improvement Funds in the 2009-2011 biennium compared to $16.8 million in 1999-2001. UA colleges and universities have $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance needs according to calculations by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Even with the proposed increases, UA institutions remain competitive both in the state and across the country. For example, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, is in the bottom quartile in the nation for tuition and fees charged by flagship universities. Tuition and fees at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas at Monticello will remain the lowest among four-year universities in the state.

Public college and university budgets are funded almost entirely by two revenue sources — state revenue and tuition and fees. During the recent economic downturn, state funding for higher education has declined or remained flat while student populations have grown rapidly.

Four-year universities in the UA System received an average of $7,019 per student in state appropriations in 2008-09 compared to $6,269 in 2010-11, a decrease of 11 percent. UA two-year colleges have also seen an 11 percent reduction in state funding per student to an average of $5,036 during that same time period. These trends are expected to continue in 2011-12.

Community colleges in the UA System will also lose a combined $480,000 next year in Workforce 2000 funding, a dedicated state revenue stream that is funded by corporate income tax collections.

UA colleges and universities plan to hold off on providing pay increases for faculty and staff. Campus officials will monitor state revenue collections to determine whether raises or one-time bonuses can be provided later in the year.

Faculty salaries in Arkansas continue to rank last among the 16 states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board.

“We value our faculty very much, but unfortunately we continue to lag behind in faculty pay,” Sugg said. “As public school funding continues to increase in our state, we are having difficulty competing with school districts for instructor-level faculty positions, especially at our community colleges.”

The UA Board of Trustees will meet at 10:45 a.m. on Friday, May 20, in the L. A. Davis Student Union Lounge at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The Joint Hospital Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m., Audit Committee will meet at 9:45 a.m., and the Buildings and Grounds Committee will meet at 10:15 a.m. at the same location. A list of agenda items to be considered by the board and committees is attached.

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