- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Tuition will be going up at Mississippi’s eight public universities in fall 2016, after College Board trustees gave final approval to the increase Thursday.

The average price of tuition for an in-state student would rise 4.1 percent next fall.

The statewide average for two semesters of full-time tuition and fees would rise an average of $268 to $7,027, crossing $7,000 for the first time. Increases range from 2.5 percent at Alcorn State University to 5 percent at Delta State University.

Tuition would go up another 3.3 percent on average in fall 2017 under plans presented to the board. Universities sometimes change their second-year plans. Seven schools plan increases in 2017, ranging from 1.4 percent to 4.9 percent. Delta State plans no increase.

Trustees had given preliminary approval in November, but their policy required a second vote.

University leaders have said they need more money to raise faculty salaries, cover operational costs and make up for lingering reductions to state aid. Though appropriations to the university system rose by $23 million this year, it still remains $11 million short of state appropriations in the 2008 budget year.

Lawmakers are currently projecting a cut to higher education funds in the 2017-2018 budget year, and revenues are running short in the current year. Budget cuts often prompt large tuition increases.

“We feel like we tried to keep the tuition increases as small as we possibly could,” said Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce. “We’re hopeful that revenues will rise throughout the year.”

Many students don’t pay the sticker price, thanks to federal, state and college-based aid. In 2012-2013, Mississippi university students typically got $6,500 worth of aid, Southern Regional Education Board figures show. That covered about one-third of the total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, room and board, books and transportation.

Still, increasing college costs are outstripping family incomes. In-state tuition will have risen 64 percent from fall 2006 to fall 2016, while household incomes in Mississippi have grown less than 20 percent in that time. The typical Mississippi family must pay 17 percent of its income for tuition at a state university, not counting room and board.

More than half of freshmen at the state’s public universities had federally financed student debt in 2012-2013, with the typical borrower going more than $7,000 into debt.

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This story has been corrected to show the first set of increases will begin in fall 2016.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy

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