Mississippi College Costs Below U.S. Average

JACKSON, Miss. – The cost of college continues to escalate in Mississippi.

Students at four-year public institutions nationwide are paying an average of more than $8,000 this year for tuition and fees more than ever, according to a College Board report released Wednesday. That’s up 8.3 percent or $631 from last year.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that Mississippi public universities’ costs are increasing more slowly an average of 7 percent or $351 more than last year’s average tuition.

The College Board report finds the actual cost of tuition and fees at Mississippi public universities at $5,418 for in-state students is well below the national average of $8,244. None of the tuition is higher than $6,000.

Living on campus can more than double the cost for college students.

The national average reached $17,131 when room and board are included, compared to $12,197 in Mississippi for students living in double-occupancy rooms and purchasing the most expensive meal plan.

“We’re in the bottom few states in terms of the percentage of our citizenry that have some education beyond high school, so … access and affordability have been a real focus of the university system,” said Hank Bounds, Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education.

Mississippi institutions also fare better than nearby states with costs averaging $15,042 for schools in the South, the report shows.

Within the state, costs at most historically black universities have increased at higher rates than most of their counterparts.

At Jackson State, tuition increased 9 percent and, at Alcorn State, 8 percent. Mississippi Valley State’s 6 percent increase is the only HBCU below the state average.

Bounds said the increases in HBCUs’ tuition now are compensating for smaller increases in previous years.

Students from outside Mississippi are seeing tuition increases greater than the national average: 6.4 percent, or $815, compared to 5.7 percent, or $1,122. However, out-of-state tuition of $13,636 is well below the $20,770 national average.

Bounds said those increases are related to the universities’ enrollment increases in recent years.

“We’re growing so fast that we’re running into capacity issues,” Bounds said.

Much of that growth at the University of Mississippi, for example, is out-of-state students. Their tuition rates are increased to compensate for the additional costs of accommodating those students.

Community college costs in Mississippi remain low, with a tuition increase this year of $60 to $2,174 for one year. Nationally, that average is $2,693.

Private college students in Mississippi are generally paying much less than their counterparts nationwide. The state average of $20,035 is nearly half the $38,589 national average.

U.S. News & World Report honored Blue Mountain College and Rust College for having some of the lowest room-and-board costs in the country: $3,950 and $3,700, respectively.

The state average would be even lower $16,742 if not for Millsaps College, which, with a total cost of $39,974, comes in over the national average.