UM curators vote to raise tuition, course fees

Friday, January 28, 2011 | 6:37 p.m. CST; updated 10:00 a.m. CST, Saturday, January 29, 2011

COLUMBIA — After a contentious debate, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved an increase in course fees, along with a 5.5 percent average tuition increase Friday. 

The decision for fee increases was a compromise after the board considered three possibilities:

  • The original proposal: Not capping an increase in course fees, which would allow a 97.2 percent increase in fees at the MU Trulaske College of Business and other double-digit percentage increases.
  • Capping the course fee increases at 9 percent, a motion the finance committee voted to recommend Thursday.
  • Cutting all course fee increases above 12 percent in half and reconsidering the proposals later.

The third plan, developed by curator John Carnahan, was eventually approved. It passed when it became clear the original proposal would not have the necessary votes.

Carnahan said he did not want to reduce the initial fee increases, given the business school is looking to fund additional services and a new program.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said the College of Business would still try to develop the program with a smaller increase, but he preferred the original option.

The curators voted three times before finally reaching a decision.

Chairman Warren Erdman called it a "reasonable compromise."

Here's what the fee increase means for some programs:

  • Health Professions: 18.6 percent increase in fees or $10.20 more per course.
  • Business: 48.7 percent increase; $17.30 added per course.
  • Engineering: 11.7 percent increase; $7 added per course.
  • Journalism: 22.5 percent increase; $9.30 added per course.
  • Other undergraduate programs: 6.5 percent increase.
  • Graduate and professional (law, medicine, and veterinary medicine) programs: 6.5 percent increase.

Curator Don Downing put forward an amendment to lower the tuition increase to a 5 percent average, citing accessibility to the system's four campuses.

"I hope we are mindful of maintaining access to all Missouri families to our University of Missouri system," Downing said.

Nikki Krawitz, UM vice president of finance and administration, said reducing the increase to 5 percent from 5.5 percent would have minimal impact, amounting to no more than $1.30 per credit hour.

Curator Wayne Goode suggested a compromise that would allow average tuition to go "up to" 5.5 percent, instead of setting it at 5.5 percent.

Krawitz said that would only prolong the budget issues, and Erdman agreed the board must act.

Ultimately, the Board of Curators accepted the administration's recommended 5.5 percent average tuition and mandatory fee increase. The expected increase at MU is 5.8 percent for resident undergraduate students.

After the meeting, Interim UM President Steve Owens complimented the board's discussion.

"I thought the board did an excellent job of discussing and weighing the issues on tuition increases," Owens said.

Erdman said he did not anticipate any additional action on tuition and fees this year, but he reminded the board that the UM system still faces a $42 million budget gap.

"We shouldn't be ignoring deferred maintenance, we shouldn't be letting positions go unfilled and our class sizes are getting too big," Erdman said. "We shouldn't be doing that. We're managing through tough economic times the best we can."

In other action, the board accepted the idea of hiring a firm to help conduct a search to replace former President Gary Forsee.

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