No tuition increase at ATU for 2020-21

ATU Public Relations
Booneville Democrat

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — The $169.5 million Arkansas Tech University operating budget for fiscal year 2020-21 approved by the ATU Board of Trustees on Thursday, June 18, includes no increase in tuition or mandatory fees for students on the Russellville and Ozark campuses.

“I genuinely appreciate the hard work that went into the development of this budget and the timeliness with which the board received this information,” said Tom Kennedy of Little Rock, chairman of the ATU Board of Trustees. “I am also appreciative of the seriousness with which you take your responsibility of stewardship. This is something the board takes seriously, and I am grateful that the faculty, staff and administration does as well.”

Reduced state funding and anticipated lower enrollment due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were cited by ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen as pressures that framed the construction of ATU’s 2020-21 budget.

“The circumstances of the pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn made for a challenging budgeting process this year,” said Bowen. “It was a challenge that the faculty, staff and administration of ATU met head on and overcame by remaining committed to our principle of prioritizing our human core. The budget approved by the ATU Board of Trustees does not include any cuts in positions or salary for our current full-time faculty or our regularly contracted staff. Our budget includes no tuition increase, which took priority in light of the financial hardships facing many of our students and their families.

“To provide our faculty, staff and students with those assurances in this environment is a tremendous achievement,” continued Bowen. “I congratulate and appreciate the faculty, staff and administration of ATU for working collaboratively to identify and implement financially-sound strategies that will allow us to fulfill our mission of student access and student success during the upcoming year.”

ATU in-state tuition rates for fall 2020 and spring 2021 will remain steady at $232 per student semester credit hour (SSCH) for undergraduate students on the Russellville campus, $292 per SSCH for graduate students and $129 per SSCH for students on the Ozark campus.

The decision to hold tuition flat for 2020-21 marks the second time in the last three years that ATU has operated with no increase in tuition.

“It is important to note that many of the steps we have taken to develop our fiscal year 2021 budget involve one-time money from our reserve funds and our foundation,” said Bowen. “Reserve funds built up over a period of many years are being invested to safeguard our human core in the short term, but relying upon reserve funds is not a sustainable budget solution as we look ahead to future years and the possibility of a prolonged economic downturn. As we assess our situation for 2021-22 and beyond, we must develop strategies rooted in even greater efficiency that will allow Arkansas Tech to identify and provide appropriate resources for its core activities.”

ATU will achieve cost savings by decreasing its maintenance and operational and departmental budgets for fiscal year 2020-21 as compared to fiscal year 2019-20. In addition, ATU auxiliary operations will experience comparable budget cuts in fiscal year 2020-21 in correspondence with projected decreases in enrollment and the accompanying fee revenues that support those areas.

“Finances are, and will remain for some time, the No. 1 challenge on the higher education landscape,” said Bowen. “While certainly cognizant of that challenge, Arkansas Tech is well positioned as we carefully and thoughtfully approach the future.”