COLUMBIA — A tuition increase at University of Missouri System campuses in fiscal year 2012 is nearly a certainty, but UM System administrators who met with the Board of Curators on Friday said they hope to keep the increase below 10 percent.
The increase is necessary to compensate for a decline in state funding and rising student enrollment, according to presentations made by officials from each of the UM System's four campuses on Friday.
There is an estimated $64.4 million funding gap in fiscal year 2012 across all four campuses — MU, University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Missouri University of Science and Technology — without a tuition increase.
Nikki Krawitz, vice president for finance and administration, said declining state revenue makes a tuition increase necessary. "We don't want to charge students more than we absolutely have to," Krawitz said.
Tuition for undergraduates has remained constant for the past two years, even though state support was cut by 5 percent this year. Over the past 10 years, however, enrollment has grown 28 percent.
Tuition and fees have replaced state appropriations as the primary source of revenue for UM System operating budgets.
The cost of attending school at a UM System campus varies with the number of credit hours a student takes, any accompanying course fees or surcharges that apply and the student's room-and-board expenses.
For a typical in-state undergraduate student at MU, 15 credit hours in a semester would cost $4,250. A 9 percent increase would boost that cost to $4,632.50, or a difference of $382.50. That assumes that all information technology, student activity, recreation facility and prepaid health fees remain the same. That price also does not include individual college fees, which are also set to increase.
By comparison, a 1 percent increase would cost an additional $42.50, a 5 percent increase an additional $212.50 and a 10 percent increase an additional $425.
Krawitz told the curators that a 1 percent increase would close the funding gap by $4.4 million, a 5 percent increase by $22.1 million and a 10 percent increase by $44.2 million. A 9 percent increase would generate $39.6 million in additional revenue.
The board plans on raising tuition by more than the expected inflation rate of 1.5 percent. To do so, it will have to file for a waiver from the commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
The expected time line will be as follows:
- The waiver will be filed to the commissioner by Feb. 1.
- The commissioner will meet with the UM System staff by March 18.
- The commissioner will notify the UM System of the waiver decision by April 15.
- If a waiver is not granted, the UM System would have 10 days to amend the request, agree to any limits or maintain its original position, and board action would be required. This would all need to occur by April 27.
- The UM System will notify campuses of tuition and required fees by the end of April, and fees must be finalized 45 days before the beginning of a term to be effective.
The board will meet again on Jan. 27 to 28 and is scheduled to vote on recommended tuition and fees. Krawitz said the board wants to be efficient with costs but also to "maintain quality" on thecampuses.
Krawitz said she hopes the board and the commission can act quickly enough to get tuition increases in place in time for summer sessions.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said many students base their college decision on the cost of the school and believe that more expensive schools are higher quality. He also said many out-of-state students come to MU despite higher nonresident costs because of MU's reputation.