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Universities to lobby lawmakers for funding increase

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s eight public universities will ask the Legislature for a 10 percent increase in funding next year at a time when the schools are relying more on tuition and less on state dollars than ever before.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that more than 57 percent of the universities’ operating funds for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will come from tuition, while 37 percent will come from state appropriations.

Higher Education Commissioner Hanks Bounds told State College Board members yesterday that despite a 1.9 percent cut in state funding for the coming year, all of the universities’ budgets, except Mississippi Valley State’s, will grow.

The budget increases, driven mostly by tuition hikes and swelling enrollments, range from 10 percent at the University of Mississippi to 0.73 percent at Jackson State University.

The budgets for the eight schools total $911 million. Money for specialized programs, such as the University of Mississippi Medical School, agriculture units and restricted programs, are budgeted separately.

“Ten years ago 54 percent came from the state,” Bounds said. “Over the past decade the statistic has flipped.”

This fall, tuition again will increase an average of 6.9 percent in the second of back-to-back hikes.

“The burden for students has grown significantly over time,” Bounds said.

Bounds said all budgets are conservative estimates at this point.

“We’ll know in September if adjustments have to be made,” he said.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger

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