by Chris Bahn
Posted 5/23/2013 03:41 pm
Updated 7 months ago
Two of the state's biggest universities on Thursday approved tuition increases for their flagship campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for its Fayetteville campus beginning with the fall 2013 semester. Meeting on the same day, Arkansas State University's board approved a 3.3 percent increase for its main campus in Jonesboro.
At UA, the move brings the average price of undergraduate in-state tuition and fees to $7,818 for two full semesters (30 credit hours). The UA calls the increase the "second smallest percentage hike in at least 18 years" and said it represents an average increase of $246 per student.
At ASU, the increase represents an average increase of $165.
At UA, the tuition increase includes a new student fee of $1.25 per semester hour to support university libraries. At ASU, students will see the academic excellence fee rise by $2 per credit hour and a new facilities fee of $3 per credit hour.
Chancellor G. David Gearhart said increased funding from the state Legislature helped keep the tuition hike low.
"We have to thank the General Assembly for the first significant increase in state funding for higher education in seven years, and Gov. Mike Beebe, who recommended the appropriation increase," Gearhart said. "We are committed to keeping tuition as low as possible, to maintain a balance between affordability and high quality. We can accomplish that most effectively when we receive this kind of support from the state."
Additional funding was needed, Gearhart said, to help fund salaries for faculty and staff. Salary increases is the "highest priority" for the additional funding.
"While we have made some progress on the average salaries of our tenured faculty, we remain below the average of our peer schools in the Midwest and Southeastern Conference for the higher faculty ranks of professor and associate professor," Gearhart told the board. "We stand to lose our best faculty if we can’t continue our momentum and reach our goal of being above average in faculty compensation."
At ASU, the university's new budget will provide 3 percent raises for faculty and 2 percent raises for classified and non-classified personnel.