MONTGOMERY - College students from north Alabama were among the hundreds who gathered outside the Alabama House of Representatives today to rally for lower tuition.
“We’re here to show that we care about tuition dollars and where our money goes,” said Will Riley of Tuscumbia.
Riley, president of the Student Government Association at the University of North Alabama, said increases in tuition and a cut in federal grants have meant more students are taking less credit hours and thereby delaying their graduation dates.
“They have to spread out classes, their scholarships just can’t cover it,” he said.
Even a slight tuition increase impacts students like Nikki Messer, a UNA sophomore from Huntsville.
Messer is taking 17 credit hours this semester, and is a residence hall advisor and works a part-time retail job.
“I have a couple of scholarships, but I still had to take out a loan,” Messer said. “A (tuition increase) means maybe not going on spring break or working full-time on Christmas break.
“This is money that comes out of our pockets.”
In his 2014 budget proposal, Gov. Robert Bentley is suggesting $1.44 billion for higher education, a 1 percent increase over this year.
Lawmakers in Montgomery have not yet introduced their budget recommendations for 2014.