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Universities can waive out-of-state tuition

A bill recently passed by the Mississippi legislature allows colleges and universities throughout the state to waive out-of-state tuition for various reasons. Whether each institution actually waives the tuition, however, is at their discretion.
Graphic by Emily Roland
Graphic by Emily Roland | The Daily Mississippian

Out-of-state students may have more reason to come to Mississippi after high school in the next few years.

The state legislature recently passed a bill that will allow Mississippi universities and colleges to waive out-of-state tuition. Each institution will determine its own waiver policy. 

Bill 1095 calls for waiving out-of-state tuition for non-resident students born in Mississippi but relocated by parents. Non-resident students who are veterans or students who claim residence in Mississippi no later than six months after separation from service may have out-of-state tuition waved, as well. Also among those with waived out of-state tuition include nonresidents who are evacuees of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. 

Out-of-state tuition waivers are at the discretion of each individual institution. The institutions may make their own decisions regarding further tuition wavers. However, these decisions must be determined to be fiscally responsible by the board. 

The bill will take effect after July 1.

Laura Diven-Brown, director of Financial Aid for the University of Mississippi, said the legislation will not have much effect on the university for the 2012-13 school year but may in the future. 

“The bill that was approved allows universities to have the flexibility to decide if they want to offer out-of-state scholarships,” Diven-Brown said. “It allows us to have that opportunity to decide if we’re going to offer scholarships to people from the neighboring states.”

Diven-Brown also said if the university decides to make any changes based on the bill, the earliest affected date would be the fall of 2013. Diven-Brown said there are many aspects of the bill to be considered before decisions are made.

“At this point in time, our university wants to ensure that we carefully consider all of the impacts of putting in some of these scholarships and how that would best help our students, our enrollment goals, looking at our campus and how we might be looking to grow our institution, and then taking a look at what that financial impact would be at our school,” Diven-Brown said.

If the university decides to use the waiver opportunities, the money to do so would have to come from the university’s own funds.

“Typically, things come from the general fund, meaning some of it is state-appropriated money,” Diven-Brown said. “What this bill allowed is for us to make those decisions using our institutional budgets.”

She said because no funds have yet been identified to offer such scholarships, it would be premature to say where the money might come from.

Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said he believes the bill will most notably help border-universities, like Delta State University in Cleveland and the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, to meet their enrollment goals, according to the Associated Press.

Representative Toby Barker, principal author of House Bill 1095, said the bill could be beneficial to all universities in the state.

“The good thing about this bill is it gives all universities the ability to compete,” Barker said. “Obviously the universities in the border counties or near the border already have a sort of natural pool to draw from in the surrounding states. However, as so many of our universities have reputations that are known throughout this region of the country, I imagine that if they chose to, all universities could benefit.”

Barker said there is no deadline for the waiver proposals to be submitted by the universities.