Prior to last week’s “big freeze” in Nevada County, the other “big freeze” story in the Arkansas was a letter from Governor Asa Hutchinson regarding tuition levels that went out to the presidents and chancellors of all of Arkansas’ four-year universities and two-year colleges, including UA-Hope in neighboring Hempstead County.

Prior to last week’s “big freeze” in Nevada County, the other “big freeze” story in the Arkansas was a letter from Governor Asa Hutchinson regarding tuition levels that went out to the presidents and chancellors of all of Arkansas’ four-year universities and two-year colleges, including UA-Hope in neighboring Hempstead County.
For the big schools, including the flagship University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Hutchinson requested a freeze in tuition at current levels for the 2018-2019 academic year. Hutchinson said “It’s time to give our students a break.”
In Nevada County, where children living in poverty is 35-percent, according to a published study by UALR in 2015, costs to continue education after high school can be an excessive burden to families, even prohibitive.
The same UALR study said that only 10-percent of adults over age 25 in Nevada County have Bachelor degrees or better, while only 7.1- percent have obtained an Associates degree. However, 76.4-percent of Nevada residents do have a high school diploma.
For institutions such as the University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkana, Hutchinson requested that two-year colleges limit their increases to the Consumer Price Index or below.
In his own press conference last Friday, UA Hope-Texarkana Chancellor Chris Thomason said “We still have one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, and we have long recognized that cost is the number one barrier for students seeking a higher education and better opportunities, and over the years, we have worked to control costs and keep our tuitions affordable.”
Approximately 15-percent of UA-Hope’s enrollment comes from Nevada County, which has the second highest student representation behind the university’s home campus in Hempstead County, and UA-Hope has continued to expand its offerings, such as a recent Welding class, into Prescott.
During the Board of Visitors meeting three weeks ago, Thomason said “Our tuition is the second lowest in the state, but counting tuition and fees, our cost to go here remains the most affordable in the entire state among 22 state community colleges and two-year institutions.”
UA Hope-Texarkana has a published tuition rate of $74 per credit hour, and overall student enrollment for 2018 is estimated at 1,281.
While Hutchinson’s letter may challenge some schools, Thomason, now in his 10th year as UA Hope-Texarkana chancellor, said ”It is in line with the absolute commitment this campus has always had. We have continue to work hard — as we always have - for student affordability with providing opportunities for world-class education. We have always recognized that the number barrier for both traditional and non-traditional students in our service area is cost.”
Thompson also touted the emergence of concurrent enrollment, where he said qualified high student seniors can get college credit and obtain an Associate’s degree almost free or at a greatly reduced cost.
“They can transfer seamlessly to another UA institution or another school in our geographic location and finish up the remaining two years of a Bachelor’s degree,” he said.
He also noted that a majority of students at UA Hope receive financial assistance through Federal and state programs and scholarships through the university’s foundation.
In 2017, Thomason said student financial aid totaled approximately $4,856,333, the bulk of which was Federal and State monies ($4,370,027). The university also has Institutional scholarships totaling $327,075, Foundation scholarships of $94,519, and other scholarships totaling $64,711.
"Total student aid from all sources is now over $4 million; we have do have resources to help our students with costs,” he said.
In his letter, Hutchinson said, “Controlling costs for students sends a strong message to students, taxpayers, and legislators that we are serious about making a college education obtainable for everyone and that our institutions of higher education can be trusted with their investment.”