ASU Board of Trustees approve budget, raise tuition, look at deferred maintenance

by Michael Wilkey (mwilkey@talkbusiness.net) 78 views 

The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday (June 1) approved the university’s system and capital budgets, as well as a 1.9% tuition increase at the Jonesboro campus during a meeting at the ASU Student Union.

Tuition and fees will rise 1.8% at the Beebe, Mountain Home and Newport campuses; and 2.4% at the West Memphis campus.

The $274 million overall system budget, with $231.4 million for education and general operations and $42.6 million for auxiliary operations, will take effect July 1, with the new fiscal year. The budget includes a 1.25% faculty merit raise and a 1% non-classified merit raise on the Jonesboro campus, as well as a 2% cost of living increase for employees at ASU-Newport.

Part of the budget will also include a $3 per credit hour deferred maintenance fee for students, which is expected to bring in $810,000 a year. Arkansas State University System President Charles Welch said the system has $371.5 million in deferred maintenance with the Jonesboro campus alone having $28 million in deferred maintenance.

The plan for the funding came after university officials recently sought a $15 million bond issue to replace light bulbs and fixtures systemwide, Welch said, noting the bond issue put the issue in the forefront.

The budget also has $12 million set aside for capital improvements on the Jonesboro campus, with about $6 million set aside for roof, water intrusion and other repairs at the Village Apartments.

The 2016-2017 budget will fund the university’s campuses in Jonesboro, Beebe, Mountain Home, Newport and West Memphis. Following are the tuition changes for the ASU-Jonesboro campus per semester.
• in-state undergraduate – $3,000 to $3,060
• in-state graduate – $3,810 to $3,885
• out of state undergraduate – $6,000 to $6,120
• out of state graduate – $7,620 to $7,770
• international undergraduate – $6,000 to $6,120
• international graduate – $7,620 to $7,770

The changes take effect with the fall semester. Also, the online MBA tuition per semester will go up from $580 to $587, effective with the second summer term, university officials said.

Board member Niel Crowson said the budget provided an optimistic, but realistic approach to funding key issues. Crowson said he would like to see the university make employee salaries a top priority while also looking at improving the salary structure at ASU by creating a staffing study on each campus.

The study would look at overstaffing and understaffing at each campus, as well as studying key performance indicators throughout the system.

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