Gov. Asa Hutchinson made a request that will benefit in-state students at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

In a Jan. 9 letter to presidents and chancellors of Arkansas' four-year universities, Hutchinson requested all the state's public universities to hold flat their tuition rates for in-state students for the 2018-19 academic year to further the higher education goal of student affordability. He also challenged Arkansas' public two-year colleges to keep any tuition increases to the Consumer Price Index or below.  

“Controlling costs for students sends a strong message to students, taxpayers, 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," Hutchinson said.

UAFS Chancellor Paul Beran said UAFS was completely satisfied with the decision not to raise tuition.

"We'll just have to plan our budget accordingly ... so that we don't account for any possible tuition increase," Beran said.

Beran said he believes UAFS is going to be able to operate "pretty normally" at least for the next year without a tuition increase.

UAFS Public Information Director John Post said the university's in-state undergraduate tuition per semester credit hour is $166.30 for the 2017-18 academic year. This figure does not include fees. The university's in-state undergraduate tuition was increased by 3.94 percent from last school year to this school year, not including fees. However, the university's increase in "tuition + fees" was actually lower at 3.49 percent.

Hutchinson said in his letter that Arkansas' four-year universities have approved in-state tuition increases ranging from a low of 3.03 percent to a high of 6.21 percent during the last 10 years. These represent averages of all four-year institutions. He went on to say he appreciates the increased emphasis of each institution in improved efficiency and reducing the cost burden on students.

“Our mutual goal is to serve students to increase the number of credentials earned and in a more efficient and affordable manner,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said he will be requesting approval from the Arkansas General Assembly for an increase of $10 million in higher education funding during the 2018 Fiscal Session. This new increase is to support the productivity funding model recently passed by the General Assembly.