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Last updated 12:13AM ET
March 9, 2021
UA Medical Students See 11.4% Tuition Hike
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Bracing for anticipated state budget cuts, University of Alabama System trustees have approved double-digit medical tuition increases.

Meeting at UAH on Friday, the trustees approved tuition increases of 12 percent in the School of Medicine, 15 percent in the School of Dentistry and 10 percent in the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Under Gov. Bob Riley's proposed budget, funding for four-year colleges and universities would be cut by about 14 percent because of declining state revenues. That cut would cost the UA system about $83 million, UA Chancellor Malcolm Portera said.

UA and Auburn University officials are trying to lobby state legislators to keep the cuts to 10 percent or less.

Joe Espy, president pro tempore of the UA board, said the proposed state cuts are unfair when compared to the proposed cuts for the two other education systems. Two-year colleges would be cut about 9 percent under Riley's budget, and the K-12 system would be cut about 3 percent, he said.

Espy said that, at first, university officials lobbied for an across-the-board 5 percent cut for each level. Realizing that probably wouldn't happen, they have agreed to take a 10 percent cut, but no more, he said.

"We're going to fight for what's fair," Espy said.

In a letter to trustees last month, UAB President Carol Garrison said the tuition increases will generate $1.6 million for the medical programs "funds which are now even more critical given the anticipated decrease in state support."

The increase approved Friday means next year in-state students will pay $15,254 a year in tuition for the School of Medicine, not including fees, and out-of-state students $45,762.

First-year in-state School of Dentistry students will pay $13,276 a year for two semesters, while out-of-state students will pay $39,828. First-year in-state optometry students will pay $13,341 a year for their required three semesters, while out-of-state students pay $40,023.

The dentistry and optometry schools also are converting from the quarter system in the next academic year. Even with the tuition increases, plus some fee increases, costs to attend the three UAB schools are below the average of similar schools around the nation, UAB Provost Eli Capilouto told trustees.

In Tuscaloosa, in-state residents in the College of Community Health Science in Tuscaloosa will pay $16,731 for one year, up from $15,025, while out-of-state students will pay 11.8 percent more in tuition, going from $42,265 to $47,239.

UA President Robert Witt has not released how much he will propose raising tuition for the rest of the Tuscaloosa campus at the trustees' June meeting because the state education budget has not been approved.

Witt has said he expects it to be substantial, but less than the record tuition hike of 16 percent he proposed in 2003.

UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said the tuition increases for medical students does not signal what trustees will consider in June.
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