Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

University of Alabama Board of Trustees Votes to Raise Tuition

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

University of Alabama Board of Trustees Votes to Raise Tuition

Article excerpt

The University of Alabama board of trustees voted Friday to raise tuition at each of the system's three campuses.

Tuition will increase 2.7 percent, or $125 per semester, for students from Alabama. It's the lowest annual tuition increase since the 1980s, said Kellee Reinhart, vice chancellor for system relations.

In-state, full-time students will pay $4,725 each semester while students from other states will pay $11,475 -- an increase of $500.

"We continue to be very concerned about being affordable to our students while maintaining the quality of education that our students expect and deserve," said Ray Hayes, the system's executive vice chancellor for finance and operations. "We spent a lot of time talking about how we can keep the increase the least amount possible."

Hayes said that the system is facing an increase of more than $18 million to the employer portion of the mandatory contribution to the Teachers Retirement System, which provides pension coverage for around 230,000 active, retired or other former employees of the state's universities, two-year colleges and public schools.

The campuses were challenged to meet the retirement mandate while keeping tuition increases to a bare minimum, he said.

State funding cuts in recent years have meant that tuition rather than government appropriations have become the predominant source of income for UA, Hayes said. State appropriations to the system have decreased from $615 million in 2008 to $447 million for the 2013-14 academic year, Hayes said. Appropriations for the upcoming year exceed last year's $442 million, but the additional money must be used for the increases to the retirement fund, he said. An improving economy could mean future increases in appropriations, which could keep tuition from drastic increases in upcoming years, Hayes said.

"In the recent legislative session, the dedicated efforts of Gov. (Robert) Bentley and the leadership of the Legislature made possible a modest increase in funding for higher education. We appreciate their help and their understanding of the return on investment Alabama citizens receive from our universities," UA System Chancellor Robert Witt stated in a release. …

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