Tuition Hikes Looming For State Universities

Many students on Mississippi campuses have it made. Their education may be paid for through family, scholarships, or grant money.

But Jackson State freshman Donald Clark is not so lucky. He's taken out student loans, and he works two jobs, one in the school student life building, the other is teaching tennis lessons to earn some extra.

"The tennis and the work aid are hopefully paying for it," Clark said. "If there is an increase, then there may be a little problem."

That little problem may mean Clark goes back to his hometown of Chicago to finish his education where he says tuition would be cheaper. With $13,000 already racked up in student loans, a tuition increase could mean more debt.

"The more we have to pay, that means the more work, the less time to study, and the lower our grades will be."

Clark isn't alone. Many students here and at other Mississippi universities face the same financial woes. And tuition costs are just part of the price. Clark says some students who manage to stay in the classroom might have to give up on-campus living.

"They need to look at the students and ask us questions, because they're the reason we're here, and we're the reason they're going to stay here, so they need to sit down and talk to us and find out what we want and what we need before they make a decision."

Clark says it's not up to the students to make the decision, but the information these students give to education leaders may be as good as any information they've ever received.

Mississippi university officials say they may have no alternative to raising tuition again. They say their budgets have been cut by nearly $100 million since 2000.