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franklin county times

UNA tutition increases have students concerned

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
FLORENCE – The University of Alabama's Board of Trustees approved a minimum 8 percent increase in tuition earlier this month, but the University of North Alabama's board did something different..
The UNA Board of Trustees approved a measure to flatten the tuition rate starting fall 2007 at its annual meeting June 11. Florence physician Dr. Allen Long was the only board member to vote against the change.
"The increase is actually going to affect people who take more than 12 hours," said Michele King, the head student writer for UNA's University Relations. "It's actually a tuition break for part-time and 12-hour students."
In the past UNA used a three-tier system for charging undergraduate tuition rates. The first tier was for 1-12 credit hours at $147 per hour; the second tier was 13-16 hours at $40 per hour; and the third tier was 17 hours or more at $119 per hour. The new flat rate charges students $137 per credit hour whether their course load is one hour or 17 hours.
For graduate students, their fee is decreasing from $190 per credit hour in 2006-07 to $180 this fall.
"We're required to take 15 hours to stay in the nursing program – it's not an option for us." said Whitney Cook, a senior nursing major and 2004 Russellville High School graduate, "I don't pay all my tuition because my parents help out, but I also have a sister at UNA they help out, too. I work at the hospital every other weekend, but I don't have time to work another job during the week because of nursing school."
"I'm hoping they have a reasonable plan for raising tuition, and I read in the paper that Dr. [Bill] Cale has a five-point plan. Nobody wants to fork out money they didn't have to, but there's been a lot of improvements here, and I think they're using the money to better the campus and the students."
According to Dr. Steve Smith, UNA vice president of fiscal affairs, a tuition increase is necessary despite increased funding from the state.
"It's not that simple that tuition is going up," Smith said. "Some people's tuition will go up and some are going down.
"We have to also consider costs that have increased – energy costs have put us $150,000 over budget right now."
Smith also cited increased faculty salaries, the addition of more faculty and health insurance as other causes for the change in tuition.
Smith said UNA's enrollment has risen from nearly 5,000 in 2004-05 to a record-setting 6,950 students in 2006-07. The rise in students means UNA will need to hire additional faculty members.
"We are using $750,000 of our appropriation to hire more faculty members," Smith said.
"I understand why tuition is increasing since everything in the economy is going up, too," said Jarmel Ricks, a senior nursing major, said. "But college students are some of the poorest people in our economy, and I just think it's ridiculous that it's gone up $1,000 since I was a freshman.
"For UNA to become a larger university, I know we are going to have higher tuition – it's still not as expensive as Alabama or Auburn," she said.