As in other states over the last 10 years, tuition at Alabama universities has increased by more than 50 percent. This fall semester, it's going to go up again at the University of West Alabama by three percent, costing students an extra $97 a year.
"To my knowledge, we had the lowest increase in the state and we were sensitive to that," said UWA president, Dr. Richard Holland.
Officials say rising costs and lagging funds made the increase necessary.
Although the university received an 18 percent increase in funding from the state, according to state mandate, about 11 percent of that must go to supplement retiree benefits and healthcare costs, leaving about seven percent to pay for other needs such as facilities and rising gas prices.
As for the three percent tuition increase, it will go to enhance professor's salaries at the university. However, faculty members say still more must be done.
"At most levels, we're the lowest paid faculty in the state," said Dr. Richard Schellhammer, president of the UWA Faculty Senate. "We would like to be brought up to the Alabama average."
While supportive of doing this, UWA board of trustee members say right now that's just not possible.
"We've been addressing this issue for a number of years and part of it is related to enrollment, because there's only so much funding from the state for us and there are only so many ways to increase income," said Dr. Alex Saad, board president.
However, Saad says there is some good news with preliminary numbers showing enrollment up almost 20 percent for this fall. He said slowly but surely the university is on the road to making this dream become a reality.