Tuition rising faster at

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 20, 2001

Alabama colleges


Staff Writer

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A recent study indicates Alabama universities and colleges are raising tuition at a faster rate than schools in other Southern states.

Costs of college may be on the rise, but state financial is not.

The Southern Regional Education Board compiled numbers that show the median annual tuition, including fees, increased more than 33 percent at Alabama institutions of higher learning between 1995 and last year. Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas were the only states experiencing faster increases.

But, while tuition was on the upswing, financial support from the state dropped 15.7 percent during the same period of time. Alabama’s neighbor to the north was the only other state ­ among the 16 studied ­ to indicate a steeper drop in financial support.

Students getting ready for fall semester at Troy State University will experience the pinch when they have to dig a bit deeper in their pockets to pay tuition.

Earlier this summer, the TSU Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by 6 percent. Board members said a tuition increase was necessary to partially offset the reduction in state allocations for the 2001-2002 fiscal year.

The change increases undergraduate tuition for a full-time student from $1,425 to $1,510 per semester. For graduate courses, the cost per credit hour will increase from $130 to $138. There was no increase in technology fees or student activity fees.

Residence hall rates will increase an average of 2.8 percent, based on the residence hall assigned. For example, cost for a shared, traditional residence hall room will increase from $1,035 per semester to $1,065.

John Schmidt, vice president of Student Affairs, said the TSU System will experience a $4 million cut in state funding because of proration.

"We looked at all the internal ways to cut costs before we looked at increasing tuition," Schmidt said. "We hate to increase at all."

Some of those cost-cutting measures have included such things as leaving positions unfilled.

Those cuts, Schmidt said, will amount to over $1 million, leaving approximately a $3.5 million deficit.

At Auburn University, tuition has increased by 6.9 percent for fall semester and 7 percent at the Montgomery campus. Full-time undergraduate state residents will pay $1,630 per semester, an increase from $1,525, at the main campus. AUM’s tuition went from $1,500 to $1,605 for Alabama residents taking a full course load.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees also increased tuition. UA students will pay $1,650 in tuition if they are an Alabama resident.

University of South Alabama’s undergraduates will pay $1,615 per semester (including fees and 15 credit hours) beginning in the fall.

Those increased in tuition and fees are part of an apparent shift away from state funding increases and relying on students paying more.

In 1992, the Southern Regional Education Board found states provided 47 percent of colleges’ operating budgets. By 1997, that percentage had decreased to 43 percent.

State appropriations in Alabama dropped from 44 percent in 1992 to 40 percent in 1997, but revenues from tuition and fees increased from 20 percent to 23 percent.