Arkansas State University System campuses propose conservative 2012-2013 budgets
The Board of Trustees of the Arkansas State University System will consider fiscal 2013 budgets and tuition and fee proposals during a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at ASU-Newport’s Student/Community Center. The proposals have been developed by each campus in the ASU System for the Board’s review and approval.
“Our Trustees were very clear that they wanted very conservative budgets and tuition rates for fiscal year 2013,” said Dr. Charles L. Welch, president of the ASU System. “While our Board understands the escalating costs of our campuses, they are also very sensitive to the need to provide an affordable educational option to our students and their families.”
For several years, state appropriations have not kept pace with growth of the institutions, resulting in a steadily increasing portion of institutional budgets financed with tuition and fee revenue. At the same time, the ASU campuses have experienced considerable enrollment growth and have awarded significantly more degrees and certificates. Despite this growth and stagnant state funding for higher education, ASU System campuses have proposed modest tuition rates for FY2013 with additional annual costs ranging from $120 to $246 for a full-time student who takes 30 credit hours during the academic year.
Tuition and mandatory fees at ASU-Jonesboro will be 3.5 percent above the current academic year. This includes a $2 per credit hour “Academic Excellence Fee” aimed at addressing faculty salaries, which rank far below the Southern Regional Education Board average. The SREB numbers, based on data from the public institutions in 16 Southern states, provide benchmark information that is often considered in recruiting and retaining well-qualified faculty in a national market. This fee will be restricted to providing salary adjustments to teaching and research faculty.
ASUJ continues to receive the lowest percentage (64%) of state need funding of any of the public universities in the state. While the modest proposed tuition increase does allow ASUJ to focus on faculty salary needs, the institution will again not be able to address massive critical maintenance needs. The latest facilities audit showed more than $205 million in deferred maintenance needs at Jonesboro, but ASU is not in line to receive any earmarked deferred maintenance funding from the state this year.
Each of the two-year colleges in the ASU System will actually receive less funding in FY2013 than in the current year as a result of cuts in Workforce 2000 funding. Together, the two-year colleges in the ASU System will experience a reduction of more than $129,400 in state funding during the upcoming fiscal year. The two-year colleges are also proposing the “Academic Excellence Fee” to address salary inequities. Two-year colleges in Arkansas often find themselves in a position of competing with nearby K-12 schools for qualified faculty because the public school salaries are often significantly higher than the college pay scales.
ASU-Beebe proposes a $2 per credit hour tuition increase in addition to the “Academic Excellence Fee.” Since FY2009, ASU-Beebe has experienced full-time enrollment growth of almost ten percent. During that same time period, ASU-Beebe’s state funding has increased by only .002 percent ($36,938).
ASU-Mountain Home proposes a $2 per credit hour tuition increase in addition to the “Academic Excellence Fee.” ASU-Mountain Home state appropriations for 2012-13 will meet only 41 percent of the budget, significantly less than the 56 percent share the campus received in fiscal 2008. During this same time period, ASU-Mountain Home has experienced a 38 percent increase in full-time enrollment and a 62 percent increase in the number of degrees awarded.
ASU-Newport proposes a $3 per credit hour tuition increase in addition to the “Academic Excellence Fee.” ASU-Newport anticipates a decrease in state funding of over $86,000 in FY2013 as a result of losses in Workforce 2000 funds. ASU-Newport has held tuition and fee increases to an average of 2.4 percent over the past five years in spite of flat or declining state funding levels.
“We are working very hard in the Arkansas State University System to implement cost containment measures and seek ways to remain as affordable as possible,” Welch said. “While we always regret any increase in student costs, I do appreciate the effort by our campuses to bring forth these rather conservative budget proposals.”
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