As JSU grows, so could tuition prices

President Killingsworth answered questions from members of the JSU community at a Presidential town hall on Monday. Photo courtesy of Abigail Harrison.

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

Students may see tuition prices increase for the first time in six years, President Don Killingsworth announced at a town hall meeting on Monday. 

At the meeting, Killingsworth reported several updates on new facilities around campus. With these new campus developments, students questioned if their tuition rates will be raised because of the construction expenses.

According to Killingsworth, students will probably see an increase in their tuition and fees this fall. He attributed the potential raise in prices to the debt the university took on to fund the almost $200 million worth of capital projects, which is $40 million over the university’s yearly budget of $160 million.

To keep the credit rate stable, the university has to show credit rating agencies that it has a plan to bring in a certain amount of money over the next several years, according to Killingsworth. 

“It could mean tuition and fees increase. Not because we’re putting the construction projects on the backs of the students. That’s not the case at all. I think we all bear the burden of campus growth,” he said.

Killingsworth did not have an exact amount for how much the tuition will increase, but he said he wants to make sure it is still affordable for students. 

“Even if we do have to raise tuition, and the budget committee is looking at that right now for a proposal to the trustees in April, we will anticipate us still being down at below the cost for any institution in the state of Alabama,” Killingsworth said. 

Garrett Harrelson, a graduate student and member of SGA Senate, questioned Killingsworth about the proposed tuition increase and was not surprised by the response he got.

“I’ve kind of seen it coming just because, again, the university is planning all these projects, and with the way Alabama funds their public universities, the students are gonna wind up footing the bill,” Harrelson said. 

The bill Harrelson referred to includes the price of the new Merrill Hall building, the Randy Owens Performing Arts Center and the stadium upgrades. 

The stadium alone is a $112 million project, according to Killingsworth, and it is anticipated to be completed by May 2024. The new stadium will bring a housing facility with 350 beds, a dining facility that is triple the size of the current facility and a new parking deck, Killingsworth said.

According to building and finance documents distributed at the Board of Trustees meeting in January, the project to rebuild Merrill Hall stayed on its budget of about $51 million. Killingsworth said the building is nearing completion and should have its ribbon cutting in April.

The documents also show the Randy Owens Performing Arts Center is on budget at almost $60 million. Killingsworth said the building is still in the design phase and anticipates construction will start by January 2023.

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