Budget Changes on State Level Impact ASU; Budget Changes Coming

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Students attending Arkansas State University will likely see a tuition hike next fall.

Last week the state announced a $107 million to the state's proposed budget.  That cut is going to impact institutions of higher learning like ASU.  A week after finding out the budget for Arkansas State University will be short just over $2,000,000 for the next fiscal year administrators at the university have been scrambling to solve the problem.

At a meeting of the University Planning Committee two options were presented to the group.

"We're looking at cutting a salary increase we otherwise would give our employees to basically keep them up with inflationary increases.  We're looking at cutting travel," said ASU Chancellor Robert Potts.

Both options call for a 6% hike in tuition and various other cuts.  Option two is the one this committee has voted to approve and submit to the board.

"The vast majority of the people who sit on the University Planning Committee were much more in favor of the second option that has been proposed.  It will still be somewhat painful, but it is something we can live with.  We just hope the economy doesn't turn down any further," said faculty member Louella Moore.

The current budget in place is based on anticipated revenue and while it is extremely difficult for this committee to make cuts anywhere they know the cuts have to be made.

"Our officers in the university are trying to make those cuts so that we can best meet the needs of our students and they can still get a quality education," said Moore.

"We're trying to minimize the impact on students.  We're keeping the tuition increase to a minimal level that we can balance the budget with," said Potts.

There are no plans to eliminate any faculty or staff members at this time or cut back any academic or research programs at the university.

"The budget numbers that we're considering have not been approved by the board of trustees and so they will still weigh in and they may ask for more cuts," said Moore.

The final decision will be up to the board of trustees.  A meeting was supposed to be held on May 9th but that meeting has been postponed.  The budget in question goes into effect in July when the new fiscal year begins.  Chancellor Potts said the ASU Board of Trustees will most likely meet in June to make necessary changes to the budget.