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Gov. Hutchinson suggests more funding for higher education, but asks for tuition freeze

Governor Asa Hutchinson addresses the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday, asking for increased funding for various agencies including higher education, but has asked for the state's four-year colleges and universities to freeze tuition for the next academic year. (Photo: Governor's Press Office)

Governor Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers on Tuesday he plans to ask for a tuition freeze at all Arkansas public four-year colleges and universities.

During a meeting of the Joint Budget Committee, Hutchinson announced his plans to increase state spending with the money going toward public safety, the Department of Human Services and higher education.

Hutchinson has suggested legislators approve a $10 million increase in funding to higher education, but has asked all four-year public colleges and universities in Arkansas to freeze in-state tuition for the coming academic year.

In a letter penned to the presidents and chancellors of Arkansas's four-year institutions, Hutchinson said, "controlling costs for students sends a strong message to students, tax payers, and legislators that we are serious about making a college education obtainable for everyone and that our institutions of higher education can be trusted with their investment."

According to Arkansas State University System President Dr. Chuck Welch, the ASU Board of Trustees have "every intention of answering this challenge from Governor Hutchinson." Welch's statement goes on to say that "in the absence of dedicated state funding for capital improvements, deferred maintenance, health insurance costs, and faculty and staff salaries, it's going to take continued creative thinking and changes in how we operate to meet the short-term and long-term needs of our students."

UCA President Houston Davis released a statement, saying, "We respect and understand the governor's recommendation and the legislative budget process. Both tuition and state funds are key components of our budget, and we are consistently evaluating all funding resources available to our institution. We are always very mindful of the financial barriers that our students face. We will do what is necessary to ensure that our students continue to get the quality education that UCA offers."


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