Auburn University junior Whitney Patterson says she feels bad for her parents, who are paying 17-percent more in tuition and fees for her studies this fall.
Patterson is among thousands of students in Alabama or their parents who will be digging deeper, in some cases a lot deeper, into their wallets to pay for college at a state school this year.
The average 12.3-percent tuition increase for undergraduate students this year at 15 of the 16 state universities marks a continuation of several years of hikes in Alabama.
And those increases have been higher than in the rest of the South, according to the Southern Regional Education Board.
Gordon Stone is executive director of Alabama's Higher Education Partnership. He says 31-percent of state university operating budgets came from tuition and fees rather than state appropriations last year.
The average in other Southern states was 26-percent.
That means a greater portion of the burden of paying for the university system lies on Alabama students and their parents than in the rest of the South.
Stone says he supports Governor Bob Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan, which citizens will vote on September 9th, as the best way to keep tuition increases at a reasonable level in years to come.
Besides this year's increases, tuition and fee levels at all but two of Alabama's 16 public universities increased each of the three academic years from 1998 to 2001.
Tuition and required fees
Tuition and required fees for in-state undergraduate students at 15 of 16 state universities in Alabama for the academic year 2003-2004 compared to a year earlier, with percentage increase. Alabama A&M has not yet finalized a tuition increase.
Source: Alabama Commission on Higher Education