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CONWAY -- The University of Central Arkansas will consider raising fees -- but not tuition -- for the 2020-21 academic year, according to the agenda for the university's regular board meeting later today.

"We know that covid-19 has put significant financial strain on students and families in Arkansas and across the nation," said UCA President Houston Davis. "In an effort to acknowledge this reality and ease some of the financial burden of the pandemic, we are recommending a tuition freeze for the 2020-21 academic year. We are asking the board of trustees to keep tuition at the 2019-20 rate."

The current tuition rate is $227 per credit hour for undergraduates and $278.80 per credit hour for graduate students.

The fee increase is limited to those fees related to bond obligations. The mandatory fees include technology, facilities and fine/performing arts.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

For undergraduates, the total of the fees will increase by 1.63%, or $150, per semester, rising from the current $2,378.30 to $2,528.30. The graduate fee will increase by 1.39%, or $120, per semester, going from the current $1,942.04 to $2,062.04.

If approved, the fee increase will generate about $1.9 million in additional revenue, based on the current-year enrollment of full-time equivalent students, according to an analysis included in the agenda. The additional fee revenue will be applied to bond obligations.

Davis announced earlier this month that the university will be in regular operation for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 20.

"This is our hope and the outcome we are diligently working toward," Davis said in a recent letter to the campus. "However, given the rapidly changing nature of covid-19, we have planned for several additional scenarios and are prepared to modify our course of action if necessary."

Custodian crews are continuing enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures in all buildings, and the university administration is working on detailed plans to ensure social distancing in classrooms and other campus locations.

The changes may include class scheduling and locations, a safe plan for housing and supporting students in residence halls, and considering the use of masks in closed places, Davis said.

The Student Health Clinic is working with health systems to prepare for testing, tracing and isolating members of the campus community if they test positive for the virus.

The pandemic has financially affected college campuses across the state. Tuition and fee increases are typical each academic year.

"While COVID-19 has certainly presented challenges for higher education, when the pandemic began unfolding, UCA was in year three of a resource optimization initiative, an ongoing, campus-wide effort to optimize the UCA budget in the face of unpredictable enrollment trends and limited state funding," Davis said. "Because of all of our efforts related to [return on investment], we were better positioned to face this challenge."

Metro on 05/28/2020

Print Headline: UCA look at increase in fall fees on agenda

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