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Troy to waive tuition jumps for PACT

They didn’t start the problem, but Troy University officials are working hard to at least make a dent.

After Alabama’s Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) program announced it might not be able to guarantee the full tuition costs that those paying into it have expected, Troy’s Board of Trustees agreed Wednesday to waive any tuition increases for just those students during the next three years. This comes after PACT has lost 48 percent of values since 2007.

“There are parents, grandparents, relatives all over the state who purchased a contract with the understanding tuition and fees would be guaranteed when their loved ones were ready for college and that tuition and fees would be taken care of by the PACT program,” said Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr.

“As educators in Alabama, we need to pursue a solution based upon that concern for students and those who subscribed to the program.”

So, for the next three years, students in PACT at Troy University will pay tuition based on this year’s rates, despite any increases the school may incur.

Hawkins said he anticipates this to come at a cost greater than $2.5 million to Troy University.

In time when proration is taking its toll on schools across the state, Hawkins said this will just become an extra burden the school will carry for the next few years.

“We don’t have any extra cash lying around. This will just be taken off our bottom line,” Hawkins said.

“We know it needs to be done, and this will just be one of those sacrifices.”

And in tight economic conditions, Hawkins said tuition increases are something the university can’t help but to consider.

“In our view of what has happened, we don’t have a choice but to consider that,” Hawkins said.

Though tuition at Troy University remains now about 80 percent of the state average or around $5,400, students still could be looking at jumps in coming years, and those not on the PACT program will be paying at those increased rates.

“We don’t want to be fair to one group of students and unfair to another,” Hawkins said. “When the general public is believing tuition is guaranteed by this program…we wanted to offer what would be some relief to that portion of students.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a fair comparison because if students haven’t done PACT, then they’re not assuming their tuition is held.” Troy University is the first and only of Alabama’s universities to agree to the proposal requested by PACT so far.

“Some others said the problem is not theirs and declined to do what the PACT board has asked,” Hawkins said.

The waived fee increases will take effect in fall 2009 and last until spring 2012.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.