JACKSON — The state College Board and university presidents continued their discussions this morning about raising tuition and room-and-board charges.
They talked much about it Wednesday but put off any definitive action until today.
Everything dealing with money is still up in the air because the Legislature hasn”t yet passed a state budget, but the board is on track not to raise tuition for Mississippi residents in the next school year.
Board members and university presidents clashed Wednesday over the campus administrators” pleas to raise students” room-and-board rates.
Board of Institutions of Higher Learning members gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a plan not to raise tuition for Mississippi residents but to do so for out-of-state students. However, this is based on the board staff”s “what-if” assumption the Legislature gives universities a small budget increase that would be combined with federal stimulus funds to total about $6 million more than they got for this past year.
University presidents had asked for a 4.8 percent tuition increase based on the assumption the Legislature will adopt a small budget cut Gov. Haley Barbour has proposed for universities.
House-Senate budget negotiators have reached a tentative agreement to give more than what the governor recommended.
The IHL board staff had recommended no tuition increase for Mississippi residents, who”ve seen the rates go up by $1,900 since 2000 to the current average of $4,740 for the past school year.
IHL Board President Scott Ross of West Point said that”s enough for now.
“I don”t envision a bad-enough scenario to support a tuition increase regardless of the (staff) recommendation,” he said.
He and other IHL board members balked Wednesday at their staff”s recommendation to let the universities increase campus room-and-meal rates — a major expense beyond tuition that students must pay for.
“When you”re writing a check, you”re writing a check. It doesn”t matter if you”re writing it to the cafeteria (for meals) or to the institution (for tuition),” said board member Amy Whitten.
It”s a bad time to make Mississippi residents pay more to attend college when they”re suffering through an economic recession that has people losing jobs and income, Ross said.
“Now is not the time to do it. There are a lot of families in this state that are concerned about their employment,” he said.
University presidents — who learned Tuesday that the board staff had turned down their requests for in-state student tuition increases — didn”t speak out against that at Wednesday”s board meeting. But they rose up when board members resisted raising room-and-board charges. The universities need more money to pay the higher expenses of providing meals and the other costs for accommodating students, the presidents said.
“If we”re not allowed more revenues from auxiliary services, it”s going to put a great strain on our campus,” said MSU”s Mark Keenum.
“I want to make sure students have healthy meals and safe, clean rooms,” said MUW”s Claudia Limbert.
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