JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials with Arkansas State University are considering a four-percent tuition increase would help the school offset inflation and cost of living increases for faculty. According to Dr. Robert Potts, ASU Jonesboro Chancellor, tuition and numerous fees would be increased if ASU President Dr. Les Wyatt and the ASU Board of Trustees approve the measure in May.
"Our costs go up here on our budget now approaching $150 million a year. Our costs go up between $4 and $5 million a year," said Potts.
Potts said the ASU Planning Committee voted in favor of a measure amending the budget for the 2011 fiscal year. The committee includes two representatives for ASU students, the Student Government Association and Graduate Student Association.
"We have increased costs for utilities for the various types of expenses that you buy supplies," said Potts. "Just to give a 1% raise to our employees is $700,000 or $800,000 dollars."
Potts said state appropriation funds have dropped $3.7 million in the last two years. Two years ago, the state decreased funds by $2.5 million. This fiscal year, the state took away another $1.2 million.
"You got to make that up from somewhere and fortunately we're growing and we're having added number, which increased the tuition dollars," said Potts. "We also compete in a national market for faculty and so if our salaries get way out of line with salaries that other people could make at similar universities in other states, then we can't attract the best and brightest."
According to the Department of Higher Education, Arkansas State University at Jonesboro has the lowest in-state undergraduate tuition of the state's four-year institutions. Tuition for one year comes at a cost of $4,890. A four-percent increase would cost an additional $200, roughly.
"We feel like we have the student's support that we need to take this forward. They did not protest this at all," said Potts. "They understand to keep a viable, healthy, growing and expanding institution; we have to raise our tuition and fees as a part in keeping a solid financial statement as we go forward."
"It doesn't tax the students too much and their families and neither does it give us excessive income to give us the means to do things that we shouldn't be doing," said Potts. "It's a frugal time. These are tough times but we're doing our best to manage wisely to run a sound institution to give good service and a good education."