LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously approved tuition and fee increases ranging from 3.21 percent to 5.28 percent at four-year campuses across the state for the 2012-13 school year, including the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously approved tuition and fee increases ranging from 3.21 percent to 5.28 percent at four-year campuses across the state for the 2012-13 school year, including the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

The board also approved tuition and fee increases ranging from 1.94 percent to 3.67 percent at the UA system’s five community colleges.

Tuition will rise by 3.51 percent to $5,517 at UAPB and by 5.1 percent to $5,560 at UAM.

Other tuition hikes at the system’s four-year schools include a 5.3 percent increase to $7,553 at the Fayetteville campus, 3.21 percent increase to $5,436 at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith; and a 4.3 percent increase to $7,343 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

At the system’s two-year colleges, tuition will rise 3.09 percent to $2,002 at Cossatot Community College UA; 3.26 percent to $2,375 at Phillips Community College UA; 3.67 percent to $2,540 at UA Community College of Batesville; 2.83 percent to $2,190 at UA Community College of Hope; and 1.94 percent to $3,150 at UA Community College at Morrilton.

UA System President Donald Bobbitt said the revenue from the increases will address rising utility costs, facility maintenance, technology upgrades and rising employee benefit costs.

“We’re having pressure at all of our campuses,” he said. “Everything has gone up, including the cost of medical care.”

Enrollment at the UA system’s campuses is continuing to outpace state appropriations, Bobbitt said, noting that public universities in other states are facing the same problem.

“This is recognition of what is happening across the country,” he said, noting that the Arkansas ranks seventh nationally in the percentage increase of students.

Revenue from the tuition and fee hikes will not go toward faculty salaries, though Bobbitt said raising salaries is another need the UA system faces.

In response to a question by UA Trustee Carl Johnson, UA-Fayetteville Chancellor G. David Gearhart said that compared to the flagship universities in the other 49 states, UA tuition is below the national average.

Gearhart said Arkansas’s tuition is $7,100 a semester, while the national average among the state’s flagship universities is $9,200. The school with the highest tuition is Penn State at $16,000 a semester.

“Yes, we are a bargain when compared to other flagships across the country,” Gearhart said. “We like that. We think that’s marvelous because frankly we want to keep our tuition as low as possible. We don’t want to overburden our students if we can.

“It’s probably the most difficult decision that we make, that is what do we ask the board in terms of increasing our tuition,” he said. “On the other hand, we don’t want it to be so low that we are compromising the quality of the institutions.”

Gearhart also noted that UA-Fayetteville wasn’t the most expensive institution in Arkansas. He said tuition is higher at the University of Central Arkansas.

While discussing the tuition hike, UA Trustee John H. Tyson noted that some public universities in California have had to “freeze” their student population because they can’t handle any more. He asked how many more students UA-Fayetteville would need before it had reached its maximum capacity.

“We are not quite, we don’t think, at the point of using that word ‘freezing,’” Gearhart said. “We think we can go (2,000) or 3,000 more students,” he said.

“We’ve talked about 25,000, but if we go much more than 25,000, and frankly we think we’re probably going to need another classroom facility on the campus … in order to accommodate,” he said.

Additional facilities would be needed if the university’s enrollment reaches 28,000, he said.

“It probably doesn’t behoove us, unless the board wants to invest more in the physical facilities of the campus on a rather grand scale, to go much higher then that,” he said. “Now we’re not going to be at 28,000 for probably three or four more years, but we’re getting very close to 25,000.”