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4/20/2006 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning met today during its regular Board meeting to discuss, among other things, the allocation of state funding for FY 2007. Over half of the System’s $90.5 million increase in state appropriations was used toward a 5-percent salary increase to bring the System closer to the regional salary average, necessary to help retain and recruit qualified faculty and staff personnel. The remaining $30 million was split among key legislative priorities such as the University of Mississippi Medical Center, student financial aid and Ayers settlement funding, leaving $4 million in increases to be used system-wide for education and general university funding.

Following careful consideration, the Board tentatively approved 5.5-percent increases at Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi, a 5-percent increase at Alcorn State University, and a 4.5-percent increase at Mississippi Valley State University. The Board also allowed all institutions’ executive officers the option of a 1-percent surcharge to help offset rising utility costs. In other business, the Board also approved out-of-state tuition increases ranging from 4.5 to 11.0 percent as requested by the individual institutions. Room and board charges were increased between 3 and 8 percent. The tuition increase will help supplement the remaining $4 million of the money provided by the legislature. By Board policy, the Board must now wait until its May meeting to finalize tuition costs.

Trustee Aubrey Patterson, chairman of the Board’s Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, said of the work today, "The Board takes its deliberations regarding tuition very seriously. Although we regret having to raise tuition, it is necessary in order to meet rising costs and to address quality issues." Dr. Thomas Meredith, commissioner of higher education, said, "We are grateful for the support given by the governor and our legislature for our salary increases, and we are confident this is the beginning of a renewal of support for higher education."

Nationally, tuition and fees have increased 84 percent in the last 15 years, according to the College Board, a New York based institute that administers the SAT. According to the Educational Policy Institute, Mississippi provides the fourth "most affordable" university education in the country. The State of Mississippi offers many comprehensive financial aid programs, like the Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant, the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant, and the Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students. In 2005, throughout the state, over 31,000 students received some form of state financial aid, totaling nearly $40 million. A 5.5 percent tuition increase means a yearly increase of $222 on average.

Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, IHL governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


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