Tuition hikes set for state universities - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Tuition hikes set for state universities

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Getting a degree from one or more of Mississippi's eight public universities is most likely about to get more expensive. That's because proposed tuition hikes are getting the green light.  

"It's always a difficult conversation to have," said Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Hank Bounds.

Bounds laid out a two year tuition plan to the state college board Thursday morning, which gave preliminary approval.   Under the plan an average increase of about $750 would be spread out during the next two school years for in-state students.

Those out of state could see an average increase of just more than $1,100.  

Bounds says universities are having to rely more heavily on tuition revenue rather than appropriations from the legislature.

From fiscal year 2000 to 2012, Bounds says state support went from 56 percent to 37 percent, causing tuition rates to rise.

University of Mississippi chancellor Dan Jones says it's an unfortunate challenge.  

"Reality is that states all across the country invest less in public higher education and so students and families are having to invest more," said Jones.

With the legislature yet to finalize a budget, Bounds says the university system must stay competitive in attracting high caliber jobs and it starts with funding education.  

"If we're going to keep those kinds of jobs in Mississippi, we have to make certain that we're providing the education opportunities that institutions in other states are providing," said Bounds.

Jackson State University president Dr. Carolyn Meyers says providing those opportunities isn't free.  

"We live in a competitive environment and we made a promise for high quality. We got to pay for it somehow," said Meyers.

State universities saw an increase last fall as well, at a nearly seven percent average. Even though Mississippi's cost for college is well below the national average, that gap is slowly being filled.  

"Raising tuition is a difficult sad reality in today's world of financing higher education," said Jones.

For out of state students there is way to avoid paying the out of state fee. That's because of legislation recently signed by the governor allowing schools to waive that cost.

 

A final vote on the increases is set for next month.

 

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