Tuition increase brought on by inflation, not campus expansion projects

JSU’s Board of Trustees held its quarterly meeting on Monday and Tuesday of this week, where they unanimously approved a 2.7% tuition increase starting in the fall semester. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Mendez.

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

Jacksonville State University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to increase student tuition 2.7% at the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday.

Beginning in the fall semester, students taking 12-18 credit hours will be charged under the new block rate system, which is $4,995 for in-state tuition and $9,975 for out-of-state tuition, according to the tuition and fees proposal.

With the new block rate, undergraduate students will pay the same amount of money for tuition whether they take 12 hours, 15 hours or 18 hours.

According to Terry Casey, Vice President of Student Affairs, the block tuition will save students money in the long run because they will be able to finish college faster if they take at least 15 credit hours a semester.

“We want to get them out of here in four years because they can get out into the job market, and they can start making money,” Casey said. “The longer they’re here, the more money they’re going to borrow to stay in school, and we want students to borrow less.”

In-state undergraduate students taking less than 12 or more than 18 credit hours will be charged $333 per credit hour, which is an increase of $9 per credit hour, according to the proposal. Out-of-state students will be charged $665 per credit hour, the proposal shows.

According to the proposal, graduate tuition will also increase $10 per credit hour, which is $410 per hour for in-state and $820 per hour for out-of-state. 

In addition to the tuition increase, the general university fee will increase $100 per semester, and campus meal plans will increase $50 per semester. According to the proposal, some departments will also be adding or slightly increasing course fees.

According to Dr. Arlitha Williams-Harmon, the university’s newly appointed Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, the new building projects are not the reason for the tuition increase.

“None of the costs related to the expansion is on the backs of the students. The tuition and fees are not being factored in at all to the stadium expansion,” Harmon said. 

Instead, Harmon said inflation is behind the increase. According to the Building and Finance Committee report provided at the meeting, the country’s inflation is currently at 7.9%, with prices in the south increasing 8.4% in the past year.

According to Harmon, the university was absorbing the inflation for the past year, keeping the tuition rate flat even though prices were increasing. This was possible partly because of JSU’s awarded HEERF money, which was used to supplement some expenditures, Harmon said.

JSU President Don Killingsworth said when they first started discussing tuition increase, the university did not have the funds to cover the building projects, so it was unsure if or how much tuition would increase to help with the university’s debt. 

“At that point, we hadn’t secured the financing to take care of those new projects, but now we have,” Killingsworth said. “So, that was thankful that we did not have to raise tuition and fees to a higher level. At one point we were looking at 5 percent.”

According to the Building and Finance Committee report, the university’s debt-service payments are being funded through vendor partnerships, donations and operations.

Though students will be paying more money out of pocket, they can also expect to see a slight raise in scholarship money because of the tuition increase, Killingsworth said.

 “Scholarships are dictated on the costs of tuition. So, yes, that would automatically be adjusted,” Killingsworth said.

The distance learning fee will also be reduced by $13 per semester, dropping from $53 to $40 for online and hybrid courses, according to the proposal.

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