UA System Board Approves Tuition, Fee Increase for Campuses

The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees approved a tuition and fees increase on Wednesday for its campuses in the 2014-15 academic year.

The increases ranged from 3.5 percent at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to 6 percent at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

What the university referred to as "modest tuition and fee increases," will help fund faculty salaries and efforts to improve retention and graduation.

Undergraduates at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville will see a 5 percent increase, or $13.03 per credit hour, to $8,209 compared to $7,818 this year. In terms of dollars, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville students will see the largest increase, $391.

At the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, where the largest percent increase will be seen, students' tuition and fees will rise to $5,962 compared to $5,624 this year, which comes to $11.27 per credit hour.

Undergraduates at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will see the smallest percent increase, 3.5 percent or $6.77 per credit hour, of the UA System's four-year universities. The increase will move tuition and fees from $5,753 to $5,956. 

Students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will see a 4.7 percent increase, or $11.93 per credit hour, from $7,601 to $7,959. At the University of Arkansas at Monticello, students will see a 5 percent increase, or $9.63 per credit hour, to $6,082 from $5,793 in the current academic year.

Tuition and fee increases at the UA System's two-year colleges range between 3.9 and 5.4 percent, and between $3.27 and $4.57 per credit hour, according to university numbers.

The tuition and fee hike will fund a minimum 2 percent merit raise for faculty at each of the UA System's institutions and a plan for each of the campuses to target new and existing resources for programs to improve retention and graduation of current students.

"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," Donald Bobbitt, UA System president, said in a news release before the two-day board meeting that will conclude Thursday. 

Bobbitt said UA System faculty had only received small salary increases in recent years, due to economic conditions, and said it was a "discrepancy" that needed to be addressed to be able to "recruit and retain high quality faculty members in order to provide the best possible instruction and mentorship to our students."

Increases Across the State

With the approved increases at all University of Arkansas campuses, four of five largest universities in the state have now increased tuition and fees for the 2014-15 academic year. The University of Arkansas campuses at Fayetteville and Little Rock follow decisions made last week by boards at Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas State University.

Increases at Arkansas Tech mean undergraduates will pay $10 more per credit hour, and will pay $1 more per credit hour for a health and wellness fee. In all, students enrolled in 30 hours will see an increase to $7,248 in the next academic year, compared to $6,918 this year.

Still, rates for the 2014-15 year at Arkansas Tech are lower than the rates for the current academic year at the state's other four major universities.

At Arkansas State University, tuition and fees will increase by 2.8 percent at the Jonesboro and Mountain Home campuses, 4.8 percent at the Beebe campus and 5 percent at the Newport campus. Overall, the average additional cost to a full-time student will be $105 per semester. 

Included in the increase is a $2 academic excellence fee to help fund a 2 percent merit salary increase for staff.

The University of Central Arkansas is the only of the state's five largest universities to not decide on tuition and fee rates for the upcoming academic year. The next scheduled board meeting for UCA is May 30.