Tuition for out-of-state students, which always has been significantly more expensive, will rise between 4.6 percent at the University of Mississippi down to 2.4 percent at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The out-of-state enrollment at the three largest universities - Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss - is significant, so any increase creates a substantial amount of student-paid revenue.
Universities had expected to seek tuition increases, as had been the case in 11 of the last 12 years, but the recession's impact on family and student incomes was a persuasive factor, plus the availability of federal stimulus funds.
IHL Board President Scott Ross - mayor of West Point and a graduate of MSU and Ole Miss - said all facts considered made the board decide this was not a good time to raise tuition.
The trustees and all the university executives had been waiting on completion of a state budget for the new year beginning July 1. A budget is unresolved as legislative conferees still worked late in the week.
It is anticipated that the state-generated share of the universities' budget will decline at least as a percentage of what's needed, a pattern that' held for several years. In 2009, the state budget provides about 21 percent of the total needed at the large universities.
The IHL financial staff will use federal stimulus funds, which are temporary, plus additional income from out-of-state tuition, to cover gaps that cold have required increases of 4 percent to 6 percent.
While Mississippi's universities' tuition is a bargain compared to some other states, the increase over the long term has been substantial. The tuition charged beginning in the fall 2008 drove costs above $5,000 per year at Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi. The differences between the three doctoral schools and the five so-called regional universities, however, is measured in hundreds of dollars, not thousands.
The increases will mean an average out-of-state tuition rate of about $12,037 a year.
The hold-the-line determination did not survive for room and board rates. Housing will increase between 3 percent and 7, and food plans increase an average of 5 percent.
We beleive the conservative course on tuition in this finacially challenged year was the right one, but we also know it probably cannot be suatained.
At the same time, we hope the IHL board and the university presidents at all eight schools chart a course to increase the educational attainment level in Mississippi. We need more college graduates, a goal running parallel with all economic development work statewide.
Last fall, Mississippi's eight universities, enrolled 71,161, an increase of less than 1 percent.
Five of the eight universities actually lost enrollment.
A substantial majority of students attend just three universities: Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, and Ole Miss.
We believe all the universities can grow with solid planning and a steady focus on increasing private-sector support.
How the univesities grow is a matter of priorities that might rub against both tradition and perception.
Financial challenges require innovation and out-of-the-box action, so the time is right to consider broader reforms to benefit our state in he long term.