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University of Arkansas board approves tuition hike

story by Tabatha Gardner, special to The City Wire

The University of Arkansas board of trustees voted unanimously to increase tuition at the college’s two-year and four-year schools Friday morning (Mar. 30). The tuition hike was outlined in the agenda for the state board meeting in Little Rock.

The tuition increases range from nearly 2% at the school’s community college in Morrilton to 5.3% at the flagship Fayetteville campus.

Students at UA Fayetteville now pay $7,173 per year. They will pay $380 more, or $7,553 per year starting in the fall. Those attending UA Fort Smith will pay $169 more next fall, increasing tuition from $5,267 per year to $5,436 per year.

“It’s imperative that we keep tuition increases low, and I believe our campuses have done that with these proposals,“ Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the UA system, said. “But we must address certain areas such as faculty pay to remain competitive and continue to provide a quality education to our students.”

The increase is a result of higher annual operating costs and a decrease in state funding, Jim von Gremp, a member of the board from Rogers said following Friday morning’s vote.

He said the decision to raise tuition is always a difficult one.

“It’s hard because I always talk to the families before I go (to Little Rock for the board meetings), but everybody still wants their child to get a good education so they can get a good job, especially in this tough economy,” von Gremp said.

He said tuition pays part and the state pays part (of UA’s operating costs) and when the state decides to cut its funding, raising tuition is what has to be done.

The increased tuition payments will help pay for rising utility costs, technology upgrades, facility maintenance, increased employee benefit costs and small increases in faculty salaries, according to a news release from the University of Arkansas.

In the future, state funding for higher education will be based on a college’s performance. Factors that will be examined include student retention and graduation rates, according to the news release.

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Revenue generated from next fall’s tuition increase will be used to focus on those areas to ensure UA remains competitive and receives all of the state funding possible, according to the release.

“As we move into performance funding and focus our efforts on doubling the number of college-educated Arkansans by 2025, we must use our limited resources to improve retention and graduation rates on our campuses," Bobbitt said

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