Despite an increase in state funding to the University, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved a 3% increase in tuition for the upcoming fall semester to meet the University's rising operating costs.
Kelli Shomaker, Auburn University chief financial officer and vice president for business and finance, presented the proposal to the board at its meeting on Friday at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.
Shomaker said that effects from the pandemic, inflation and rising construction costs led made the increase in tuition necessary. However, she said that this increase was not abnormal compared to previous increases.
“We’ve typically done tuition increases in the 2-3% range,” Shomaker said. “Coming out of the recession of 2008 and 2009 we actually had 8-and-12% increases, but getting funds from the state is helping us as well.”
The increased tuition costs will take effect in the fall and will be in place for 12 months once enacted. Currently, Alabama-resident student tuition and fees cost roughly $11,826 over a typical fall and spring semester. With the proposed addition, that total increases to $12,176.
With many different construction projects underway, Shomaker said that higher labor costs had led the University to plan wisely for its future construction.
She said that with many Auburn employees leaving to find new types of work with different pay-structures that hiring new faculty and paying for outside construction costs are becoming difficult.
Along with the increase in tuition is a $51 million increase in state appropriations for Auburn, the largest increase in the last 10 years. AUM will also receive one-time funding of $14.3 million toward renovating the school's Science Laboratory Facility.
“This funding is continuing revenue sources from the state, as well as one-time money from the state,” said Jared White, executive director of governmental affairs for Auburn University.
White said Auburn has four divisions that always receive funding — Auburn operations and maintenance; agriculture; extension; and AUM operations and maintenance —but the legislature has a supplemental fund that is directed to one-time funding opportunities.
Auburn University and AUM both received one-time funds from supplemental appropriations bills, with Auburn collecting $8.5 million and AUM collecting $1.7 million. This does not take into account the $14.3 million one-time grant that AUM also received for renovations.
“The first four divisions of Auburn receive roughly $26 million from continuing funds,” White said. “Then they get about $8.5 million in additional supplemental funds, and then AUM is getting funds for their renovation.”
White also said that the continuing funds that Auburn receives come from Alabama’s education trust fund, which is the state’s largest operating fund, according to the Alabama Department of Finance’s website.
Despite these increases in funding, Shomaker noted that they still do not meet the rising operating costs of the University. The increase in tuition was proposed to help ease these costs. Tuition did not increase last fall, a decision which Shomaker said was made to
“Together, these financial resources will enable Auburn and AUM to maximize the impact of our land-grant mission of providing excellent instruction, life-enhancing research and service to our fellow Alabamians,” Shomaker said.
White also added that, despite the increasing costs of operating Auburn and AUM, the amount of funding the schools received was outstanding.
“It was a great year for Auburn,” White said. “We’re grateful to the legislature and the governor.”
It was also announced that university housing costs will face a slight increase next semester. The cost of each housing unit will increase by 2%, rounded up to the next $10 increment. Increases range from $70 to $130 per unit.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
Tucker Massey, sophomore in journalism, is a news editor for The Auburn Plainsman.