» By BRIAN BIGELOW – bbigelow@my.apsu.edu

APSU students can expect to pay more for classes this year due to an eight percent increase in tuition costs for in-state students, the largest increase in the past three years. APSU staff and faculty will also see a 3 percent salary increase.

“Tuition sees an increase about every year. We’re also seeing decreases in our state funding every year,” said Tim Hurst, assistant vice president of Finance. “Last year, our funding was what it was 10 years ago. We’ve been cut a decade in funding.”

This year marks the first time individual institutions had the option to increase tuition rates beyond the minimum set by the Tennessee Board of Regents during their quarterly meeting in June. APSU chose to only increase their tuition by the minimum amount allowed, making APSU’s tuition increase the smallest among all TBR schools.

“This past spring, the main factors considered for increasing tuition were a two percent cut in state appropriations, low faculty compensation and inflationary issues such as utilities and fuel costs,” said Mitch Robinson, vice president of Finance and administration. “Unless the state increases its support of higher education, you can expect an increase next Fall 2012 to cover inflationary items such as utility and fuel costs.”

Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Tech both increased tuition by 9 percent and University of Memphis had the highest increase at 10.3 percent. Out of state APSU students will see an 8.3 percent raise in tuition costs.

Housing costs will also rise this semester, with Blount, Harvill and Sevier costs increasing by 10 percent. Despite the increases in tuition and housing costs, financial aid will not increase as a result.

“Award limits for loans and grants are set by federal and state governments. Typically, these do not keep pace with tuition increases,” said Donna Price, director of Student Financial Aid. “We have experienced increases in Pell [grant] amounts and loan limits over the past three years; however, our federal deficit problems may impact [or] lower Pell amounts in the future.”

The Tennessee State Legislature approved a 1.6 percent salary increase for all state employees and TBR was allowed to supplement that with an additional 1.4 percent increase, according to Mike Hamlet, director of Human Resources.

This is the first “across-the-board” salary increase since 2007, Hamlet said. The salary increase took effect for all full-time staff after July 1.

APSU has also proposed a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 for all employees with at least two years of employment, which will be reviewed by the TBR at their September board meeting. TAS