Arkansas State University System President Dr. Charles Welch says tuition increases at Arkansas State University’s five campuses are needed as state funds for higher education are stagnant.
He says the campuses were charged to keep the rates as low as possible and that any requested increases should consider how the rates could impact students. He says states that surround Arkansas have seen cuts in higher education and Welch says he is thankful there are no cuts. He says the increases are needed because of the lack of state funds, inflation, maintenance of all buildings, and salaries that are competitive with other schools. Welch says he hopes for additional funds starting next year when Governor Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to add $10 million dollars to higher education could start. The proposal would reward colleges and universities for graduation rates instead of enrollment.
Trustee Neil Crowson says he wants to make sure there are quality faculty and staff at every campus to help students enter to workforce. Trustee Dr. Tim Langford says he also feels good about raises that will go to faculty and staff, which include a 2% faculty merit raise, a 2% classified Cost of Living Adjustment, and a 2% non-classified staff merit raise. Trustees Stacy Crawford and Pierce Gardner say they realize that tuition raises are hard, but they also see where the money is going to attract and maintain faculty and staff on the campuses.
Dr. Welch says each Chancellor of each campus must present to him how savings are occurring on the campuses, and the Chief Financial Officers for each campus also present budgets and justification for any increases. He says tuition increases also go toward capital improvement projects for the many maintenance needs that are on each campus. He says this is because there is no state money that is dedicated to addressing those needs.
In the resolutions that were considered by the ASU Board of Trustees:
The Board of Trustees has approved increases in tuition, fees, room and board rates across the ASU System. Arkansas State University-Jonesboro will get a 3.4 percent increase. The average in-state undergraduate student taking a full load of classes (15 hours) will be $3,150, which is $210 per credit hour. The in-state graduate student will pay $4,005, which is $267 per credit hour. Out of state and international undergraduate students will pay $6,300, which is $420 per credit hour. Out of state and international graduate students will pay $8,010, which is $534 per credit hour. Other fees apply. See a breakdown of those numbers here.
At ASU-Beebe, undergraduate full time students will pay $1,500--$100 per credit hour--and out of state undergraduate students will pay $2,580--$172 per credit hour. This is a 1.7 percent tuition increase.
Arkansas State University Mid-South will get a 3.6 percent tuition increase. In-district full time students will pay $1,380--$92 per credit hour. Out-of-district full time students and those living in surrounding counties in Mississippi and Tennessee will pay $1,680--$112 per credit hour. Out of state full time students will pay $2,280--$152 per credit hour.
Arkansas State University-Mountain Home will get a 1.7 percent tuition increase. In-state undergraduate full time students will pay $1,440--$96 per credit hour--and out of state full time students will pay $2,445--$163 per credit hour.
Arkansas State University-Newport will receive a 3.1 percent tuition increase. Undergraduate full time students will pay $1,440, which is $96 per credit hour. Out of state undergraduate students will pay $2,355, which is $157 per credit hour.
The Board of Trustees also approved operating budgets for the next fiscal year system wide. At Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, $168,226,180 is allotted for Educational and General Operations and $38,691,022 for Auxiliary Operations.
The Arkansas State University-Beebe budget is $26,671,656 for Educational and General Operations and $2,775,580 for combined Auxiliary Operations.
The Arkansas State University Mid-South budget is $14,051,194 for Educational and General Operations and $348,806 for Auxiliary Operations.
The Arkansas State University-Mountain Home budget is $10,772,085 for Educational and General Operations and $210,000 for Auxiliary Operations.
The Arkansas State University-Newport budget is $15,925,411 for Educational and General Operations and $295,000 for Auxiliary Operations.
The Arkansas State University System budget is $3,217,655 of which $2,506,652 is categorized as a state appropriation, and $709,370 comes from other sources, including campus and foundation support.
The Board of Trustees approved the following:
· A budget for the fiscal year capital project and expense budget for deferred maintenance needs and critical maintenance needs across the system.
· 300 provisional positions for ASU-Jonesboro, 100 provisional positions for ASU-Beebe, 40 provisional positions for ASU-Mountain Home, 60 provisional positions for ASU-Newport, 75 provisional positions at ASU Mid-South.
· The ASU System’s General Counsel’s Office will spend the summer working with all of the campuses to address the new laws that address concealed carry of handguns on certain properties on the University System. This will be done before September 1.
· 3 easements to City Water and Light in Jonesboro to install sewer line infrastructure and electrical infrastructure below ground through part of the ASU-Jonesboro campus.
· Guaranteed Cost Savings Capital Project and related financing at ASU-Beebe and ASU-Newport for campus-wide energy improvements. Total cost is $9.2 million.
· ASU-Mid South, ASU-Mountain Home, and ASU-Newport’s Board of Visitors.
· Arkansas State University-Jonesboro to enter into a ground lease agreement and building lease agreement with Centennial Bank, allowing Centennial Bank to facilitate the construction of a building on the campus for a Campus Welcome Center.
· Arkansas State University-Jonesboro to apply for federal grant funding from the Recreational Trails Program for support of the Campus Trail Loop.
· Arkansas State University-Jonesboro to rename University College as Undergraduate Studies.
· Arkansas State University-Jonesboro to offer a new degree program, the Associate of Science in Accounting.
· ASU-Beebe to offer the Technical Certificate in Public Safety.
· ASU-Newport to offer an optional voluntary retirement program.