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UA trustees hold line on most student costs

Tuition to increase at 2 UA System schools; UAFS, UALR, UAPB stand pat by Jaime Adame | May 28, 2021 at 3:07 a.m.
Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus is shown in this Aug. 30, 2014, file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Fewer than half of University of Arkansas System campuses will increase tuition or mandatory fees for the upcoming school year after trustees on Thursday gave final approval to rates and school budgets.

Only two schools in the UA System are raising tuition: the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana.

UA-Fayetteville will increase tuition and mandatory fees by a combined 2% for in-state undergraduate students. Tuition and mandatory fee costs at the campus are increasing to $9,572.40 annually in 2021-22 from $9,384.90 for an in-state student taking a 30-hour schedule over the academic year.

Three large universities are proposing to keep tuition and fees unchanged: the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

[DOCUMENT: Read the approved tuition, fees for the University of Arkansas System » arkansasonline.com/528uafees/]

This marks the second-consecutive year without an increase at those universities.

Schools raising mandatory fees include UA-Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana and the University of Arkansas Community College at Rich Mountain, which has its main campus in Mena.

The UA System includes seven community colleges and five universities, not including academic medical college the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences or the online-only University of Arkansas System eVersity.

Gina Terry, chief financial officer for the UA System, told trustees Thursday that "most campuses are expecting to be able to give a small pool of raises to their employees."

The 10-member trustees board approved budgets including a UA-Fayetteville budget with approximately $857.6 million in operating expenses, about an 11.7% increase from a year earlier.

An expected boost in tuition revenue of about $10.8 million for UA-Fayetteville is helping offset an increase in expenses driven in part by rising compensation and benefit costs.

UA-Fayetteville's budget documents state that there is "a restoration of position budgets" after uncertainty last year in the early stages of the pandemic regarding state appropriations. Compensation expenses are up by nearly $36 million compared to last year's budget because of other factors, as well, including a push to raise full-time employee salaries to a minimum of $30,000 annually, the budget document states.

Most other large colleges in the state have yet to set tuition and fee rates for the upcoming academic year.

But Arkansas Tech University last week announced that its board of trustees had approved an increase of about 3% in its undergraduate tuition rate for in-state students, now rising to $239 per student semester credit hour.

On Thursday, the University of Central Arkansas board of trustees approved an increase in undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees. The rate will increase from $9,338 to $9,563 for an in-state student taking a 30-hour schedule over the 2021-22 academic year, according to UCA board documents.

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