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Monday, May 2, 2016

State Capitol Week in Review

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Tuition and fees will increase at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Officials at both universities expressed concern about the impact of tuition increases on enrollment. They said they would seek additional funding from the Legislature in the 2005 regular session.

The president of UCA said that if the campus does not receive additional revenue within the next three years, budget cuts and possibly layoffs of faculty would be necessary.

The chancellor of ASU's Mountain Home campus said that state funding of his institution is at a slightly lower level this year than it was four years ago, even though attendance has increased by 30 percent. He said the stagnation of state funding is more than a cause for concern, calling it "alarming."

A financial officer at UCA told the university's Board of Trustees that state funding for next year was projected to be less than it was three years ago.

Tuition and fees at state-supported colleges and universities within the University of Arkansas System also will increase next year. Those campuses include the four-year universities at Fayetteville, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Fort Smith and Monticello, five two-year colleges and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock.

UCA and ASU are not members of the U of A system. Besides its main campus at Jonesboro, ASU has campuses at Mountain Home, Beebe, Newport, Searcy, Heber Springs and Marked Tree.

Tuition at UCA will go up 6.4 percent because the university will raise from 13 semester hours to 14 the maximum number for which students are charged. The rate will remain the same at $145 per hour. The UCA Board of Trustees also raised several mandatory fees, so the total costs for a student taking 14 or more hours will go up from $2,252 a semester to $2,526.

Tuition at the Jonesboro campus of ASU will increase 7.6 percent. A student taking 12 hours will see tuition go up from $1,500 a semester to $1,614. The ASU Board of Trustees also raised library fees by $2 per credit hour. It will go up the next two years to $4 and then to $6 per credit hour.

The UCA Board approved a budget for next year of $108 million. It will be the first time in the institution's history that its budget has exceeded $100 million.

The ASU Board approved a budget of $103 million for its Jonesboro campus and $19.5 million for its auxiliary operations.

Officials at all state-supported institutions of higher education are concerned about their future budgets because of the state Supreme Court decision in the Lake View school funding case.

Due to the ruling, the Legislature enacted a law that ensures adequate funding for public schools from kindergarten through grade 12. If the economy cools and budget cuts in state government become necessary, funding of K-12 would be protected while higher education and state agencies would absorb all of the budget reductions.