Governor asks for tuition freeze; A-State responds

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JONESBORO, Ark. – On Tuesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson made a plea to Arkansas universities to give students a break and not hike tuition this year.

The governor made the request in a letter in which he said he would ask the Arkansas General Assembly for a $10 million increase in funding for higher education. He asked all four-year institutions to freeze their tuition rates for the coming school year.

“It’s time to give our students a break,” the Governor said in his remarks to legislators.

Dr. Chuck Welch, President of the Arkansas State University System, issued a three-paragraph statement in response to the governor’s letter. In short, he said the budget planning phase would attempt to meet the challenge posed by the governor.

“We respect, understand and share the governor’s concerns about keeping in-state tuition affordable. One of the top ASU System strategic planning goals is to use the CPI as the guide for tuition requests from our campuses. Our Board of Trustees and campus administrators believe strongly in producing a high-quality, affordable education, and we will certainly enter budget planning this spring with every intention of answering this challenge from Governor Hutchinson.

“The ASU System has also been engaged in a comprehensive, systemwide efficiency study to help us identify ways to increase revenue, reduce expenses and reallocate resources. The primary purpose for this study is to reduce reliance on student tuition. Additionally, we continue to pursue new revenue streams through public-private partnerships and innovation activities.

“In the absence of dedicated state funding for capital improvements, deferred maintenance, health insurance costs, and faculty and staff salaries, it’s going to take continued creative thinking and changes in how we operate to meet the short-term and long-term needs of our students. This is precisely why the ASU System has been proactive in the past few years in containing costs, seeking new revenue streams and promoting maximum efficiency in our operations.”

The governor also is requesting that two-year colleges limit their increases to the Consumer Price Index or below.

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