The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees agenda for its meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Hope outlines proposed tuition and mandatory fee increases for system campuses ranging from 3.5 percent at UAPB to 6 percent at Fort Smith, with a 5 percent increase at the flagship Fayetteville campus.
The budget outline here shows the increase for each campus, including community colleges; specific fees for the range of student situations and justification for those increases. UAF will remain the most expensive UA campus, costing $8,209 on tuition and mandatory fees for 30 hours of courses next year, if the proposal is approved. UAF said the increase would help its goal of being a top 50 university. As noted earlier, Chancellor David Gearhart is a top quartile administrator in terms of pay, ranking 64th among all public university heads in the country. The increase will pay for some faculty pay increase, for example 2 percent at UAF.
(PS — The increases include the proposal I’d reproted earlier for a 10 percent increase in UAMS College of Medicine tuition.)
A UA System news release about the meeting and budget proposals terms the tuition increases “modest” and necessary because of declining state support (as a percentage of overall costs) and enrollment increases.
The Arkansas State University Board last week approved tuition and mandatory fee increases of 2.8 percent for its four campuses. ASU also cited rising costs, including faculty pay, and flat state support.
LITTLE ROCK – The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas will consider a proposal for modest tuition and fee increases to help fund priorities such as faculty salaries and efforts to improve retention and graduation rates at UA System institutions.
The proposal includes a minimum 2 percent merit raise for faculty at each institution and a plan for each campus to target new and existing resources for programs to improve retention and graduation of current students. Arkansas ranks last among the 16 states included in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in average faculty salaries at both two- and four-year institutions. The attached chart shows the proposals for each two- and four-year institution in the UA System.
“Our institutions have made an effort to keep tuition increases as modest as possible and to focus specifically on the most pressing needs for continuing to provide a high quality educational experience to our students across the system,” said UA System President Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, who will recommend the tuition proposal at the board meeting. “Our faculty have received only small salary increases during the recent economic recovery and we believe we must address this discrepancy so that we can recruit and retain high quality faculty members in order to provide the best possible instruction and mentorship to our students. We must also continue to focus efforts on helping our students stay in school and be successful through advising, tutoring and other services.”
The four-year universities in the UA System are expecting to receive small increases of less than 1 percent in state appropriations for the 2014-15 fiscal year, while state funding for the two-year colleges will remain flat.
Operating budgets for the colleges and universities in the UA System are funded by a combination of state appropriations and tuition and fees. The portion of expenses funded by state appropriations has declined in recent years and now accounts for less than half of the operating budgets at several two- and four-year campuses in the UA System.
The five four-year universities in the UA System have seen total annual enrollment climb by more than 6,000 FTE (full-time enrollments) since the 2009 fiscal year. Meanwhile, state funding per student has not kept pace, falling by 13 percent from $6,904 to $6,020 during that time, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Each institution utilizes a deliberative process with input from their campus constituencies to determine budgetary needs and potential tuition increases.