Students say tuition hikes discourage furthering education

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Some community college students say rising costs at Mississippi universities discourages people from furthering their education. On Monday the State College Board voted to increase tuition at universities this fall anywhere from 4.5% to 9%. The rates are set to go up yet again the next year. Some students say they're starting to wonder if Mississippi really wants them to go to school.

As one of Pearl River Community College's River Navigators, Brittyn Miller helps out with special events and recruitment. She plans transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi which is about to be hit with two straight years of tuition hikes.

"My parents are in education," said Miller. "They are in the high schools so it's a big talk in my family about the increase in prices. I have sisters who go to college. "

The State College Board approved an average 6.8% increase for in-state tuition in 2011 followed by an average 6.9% hike in 2012.

Joann Guillot said many of her classmates will be burdened by the price increase. "My family does not receive financial aid in any way. This is coming out-of-pocket. There will be a lot of cut backs. For some people that might not even be an option to continue school because tuition has gone up so far."

Another PRCC student, Katie Davenport, says her family is worried about how they'll pay for her education. "There's a bunch on the news talking about tuition changes and some majors getting cut so it is a big factor in decided where to go after here. The price, of course, is an issue so maybe staying somewhere a little closer, like USM. Just trying to stay close to home to save a little bit of money."

Some students say by pricing education out of the reach of so many people, Mississippi universities may end up with a lot more empty desks.

"I've been taught since I was little to go to college after high school," said Miller. "With the economy the way it is and they're raising tuition, they're pretty much encouraging students not to go now."

"At one time they [students] could afford to go but now, they're having trouble getting financial aid or scholarships. It's like we're encouraging students 'Don't go to college because you can't afford it.'"

The College Board raised tuition for out-of-state students an average of 6.1% for both 2011 and 2012.

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