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No tuition, fee increase at Calhoun, Athens

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Tuition and fees at Calhoun Community College, Athens State University and the state's other two-year colleges will stay the same for another year, the chancellor of the system said Tuesday.

This means students at Calhoun will continue to pay $90 per credit hour in tuition and fees plus an additional $5 building fee. Over an average two-semester year, Calhoun spokeswoman Janet Martin said, the yearly cost for a student who takes an average load of 12 hours per semester is $2,280. Students who take 15 hours would pay $2,850.

Athens students will still pay $135 per credit hour, which includes $25 in fees. For an average two-semester year, the cost at the system's only junior-senior-level university is $4,248 per year.

Two-year Chancellor Bradley Byrne said he had two reasons for not raising tuition and fees.

First, Byrne said, the Legislature gave the system a 13.9 percent increase in the Education Trust Fund budget passed earlier this month, an amount he called "generous." Second, even with tuition and fees remaining the same for the fourth straight year, Byrne said Alabama's system is still "a little higher than its sister states."

He said keeping the rates helps bring tuition and fees more in line with neighboring states.

The announcement came less than one week after The University of Alabama System trustees approved an 8.5 percent tuition increase at the main campus in Tuscaloosa, and a 3.4 percent increase at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The increase for graduate students at UAH will be 3.5 percent.

The increase averages about $414 for a yearly tuition total of $5,278 for UA system students who take 15 credit hours per semester, according to system estimates.

At least two other state universities plan tuition increases, with Auburn University's rate going up by 5 percent and the University of South Alabama increasing at least 7.1 percent.

The most recent Department of Education cost comparison breakdown was released in the 2006-07 Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac in August 2006.

Alabama students at two-year colleges paid an average of $2,735 per year, compared with a national average of $1,847. The next highest Southeastern state was Tennessee at $2,209. The lowest rate among surrounding states was Georgia's $1,470.

In the same study, students at Alabama's four-year colleges and universities paid $4,377 per year, higher than all surrounding states, but less than the national average of $5,038.

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