July 13, 2013 6:59:53 PM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Despite the rising price of college tuition, local universities insist the rewards exceed the cost.
The eight public universities across the state of Mississippi will increase tuition rates by an average of 6.4 percent to $6,329 per school year.
Students at Mississippi University for Women will see an increase of 6-percent, bringing the cost of tuition to $5,640 for 2013-2014 school year, $334 more than 2012-2013.
Nora Miller, MUW's senior vice president for administration and Chief Financial Officer, said MUW is still the most affordable public university in the state.
"Even with this six percent increase, we remain the most affordable university in Mississippi," she said. "The increase was needed to address rising costs for technology, utilities and supplies, and to ensure that we continue to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty and staff to provide a quality academic experience for our students."
Mississippi State's tuition will increase in 2013-14 to $6,772 for two semesters, up 8.1% from the 2012-2013 school year. The increase includes a $50 a semester increase for an added facilities charge approved in November.
Tuition at Mississippi's eight public universities has increased by 57 percent over the past nine years as the state legislature has consistently refused to sufficiently fund higher education. As a result, the burden has shifted to students and parents.
MSU President Mark Keenum said even with the rising cost of tuition, universities still have to do more with less.
"We are doing a lot more with a lot less and continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently, but rising higher education costs are a fact of life," Keenum said.
He added that despite the increase, he felt MSU was still an affordable education.
"Even with this small increase, our tuition is well below that of our peers across the region and in the Southeastern Conference. A Mississippi State University education is still a very good bargain for our students and their parents. I remain committed to making sure that continues to be the case by maintaining the highest academic standards for those who choose to invest in Mississippi State University."
MSU's Sid Salter said he doesn't see the increase as a deterrent for high school students entering college for the first time, citing scholarship opportunities.
"Very few students pay sticker price when pursuing their higher educations," Salter said. "Scholarships, federal and state assistance in the form of grants and subsidized loans lessen the costs significantly. But we are of course concerned about rising costs and how those costs impact our students and their families."
Miller said today's college students have to make tough decisions when it comes to tuition and student loans. She said MUW's low costs help students ease the financial burden.
"I think today's students are having to take a closer look at how they can maximize their educational dollars," she said. "They have to make wise decisions to limit loans to cover essential costs. Our affordability helps students to stretch those dollars a little further."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.