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New Budget Could Affect Higher Education

By Daniel Cherry | Published 18 Mar 2011 06:16pm | comments

Universities across the state have already planned what they will have to spend, while lawmakers are still deciding on what next year's budget will be. MPB's Daniel Cherry looks at how the new budget could affect higher learning.

With just over two weeks left in the legislative session the deadline for next year's budget is fast approaching. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board met yesterday. IHL Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds says even without a plan in place he doesn't expect to see any big changes in funding.

"Tuition is set for next year almost regardless of what the legislature does. If they cut us significantly more, then obviously we'll have to reconsider what we're doing, but I don't see any real opportunity for that to take place."

Universities are already planning a tuition increase in 2012. In the down economy enrollment is increasing. President of Alcorn State University Dr. Christopher Brown says when money is tight institutions have to make sure costs are kept as low as possible to remain attractive.

"The funding model has to work. The budget has to work because parents and families are only going to pay what that sticker says there's no extra add on cost at the back."

The legislature has passed a bill which allows a commission to study changing a portion of funding for education to reward achievement rather than enrollment. Mississippi State President Dr. Mark Keenum is open to the idea.

"I think that the legislature is wise to look at ideas as far as performance based funding, but it's going to be in the details on what does that mean, how does it impact this entire system of higher learning in Mississippi, and how will it affect each of the schools."

The IHL board has already set their 2012 budget...any additional increases in tuition wouldn't take effect until 2013. 

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