UM students incur 5 percent tuition hike this fall

Tuition will climb 5 percent at the University of Montevallo this fall, the lowest percentage increase among Alabama’s 14 public universities. However, UM maintains the title as the most expensive public university in Alabama.

The university’s Board of Trustees approved the tuition and fee increase in May, costing undergraduate full-time students $7,010 for two, 15-hour semesters.

That’s $10 more than the University of Alabama, whose trustees approved a 9.4 percent increase in June. Some find the closeness in cost between a 160-acre, 3,100-student university and a 1,800-acre, 27,000-student university disconcerting – especially in this down economy.

“I am very bothered by it and I think all the trustees are bothered by the high cost,” said George Walker, chairman of the UM Board of Trustees. “We’re very well aware of the fact that we need to get the cost down as much as we can to increase the likelihood of getting people to come here.”

Walker said state funding for the university dropped from 46 percent to 40 percent last year. Federal stimulus funds made up for half the loss.

“The cutbacks in state funding … it’s been substantial,” Walker said. “Every public institution in the state has had the same problem. We’re not pointing fingers at anybody except the economy.”

To make up for its loss, the university has hired John Brady as vice president for university advancement. Brady’s role, Walker said, includes searching for untapped sources of funding.

“We’re expecting great things from John,” Walker said. “We want not only to improve the contributional level from alumni, businesses and a panoply of sources, we also want to develop new sources of funds so we can hold the line as best we can in this economy.”

Walker, who funded his own education at UM in the 1970s, can identify with students and parents who are struggling to pay for college. At the same time, he said, the university can’t afford to compromise its educational services.

“Every time I cast a vote to raise tuition, it tears me up. But we got to make sure the resources are there for the students we can attract,” Walker said. “A lack of resources would create an educational experience people would not be interested in. It’s a very fine line.”

The tuition increase will be included in the university’s annual budget, which is up for the Board of Trustees’ approval Friday, Aug. 7. The board will meet at 1:45 p.m. in the Merrill Room inside Reynolds Hall.

2009-2010 Tuition Rates for Alabama Residents

University of Montevallo: $7,010

University of Alabama: $7,000

University of Alabama Huntsville: $6,510

Troy University: $6,400

University of Alabama Birmingham: $6,296

Auburn University: $6,240

Jacksonville State University: $6,240

University of North Alabama: $6,046

Auburn University Montgomery: $5.970

University of South Alabama: $5,962

Alabama A&M University: $5,676

University of West Alabama: $5,530

Alabama State University: $5,460

Athens State University: $4,350