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UM tuition increases might be smaller than expected

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | 8:16 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri System Board of Curators is expected to vote this week on proposed tuition and fee increases for all four UM campuses in 2014.

Under the proposal, a resident, undergraduate student would expect a 1.7 percent increase in tuition and required fees, amounting to an average of $157 more per year. The current resident, undergraduate student in the UM System pays an average of $9,167 per year for tuition and required fees.

The system's proposed increase is down slightly from the 2 percent jump in tuition and required fees discussed at the UM Board of Curators meeting in December.

The system will bring its proposal to increase tuition and required fees for fiscal year 2014 to the curators' first meeting of the year on Thursday and Friday at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

A 1.7 percent increase would match the rate of inflation, according to the proposal.

Over the past five years, tuition has been raised by an average of 2.3 percent annually for resident, undergraduate students, according to a statement released by UM System President Tim Wolfe.

Since 2001, state funding to the UM System has decreased by more than 10 percent, placing Missouri 44th in the nation in overall state higher education funding in 2012, according to system documents.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon called for additional funding for higher education in his annual State of the State address.

Nixon's budget plan suggested an increase of $34 million to public colleges and universities in the state, or an average increase of 4 percent for each school.

A list of performance measures — such as increased graduation rates, increased student retention and improved learning — would determine how much of the $34 million pot each school receives in fiscal year 2014, which begins on July 1, 2014.

Last year, the UM System met all of the performance measures and would receive a 4.3 percent increase in funding, $16.9 million, under Nixon's plan, according to the document listing Nixon's proposed budget increases.

The Missouri General Assembly will review Nixon's requests and pass a budget by May. 

Wolfe's statement said he was pleased by Nixon's State of the State address. He thanked Nixon "for his willingness to invest additional dollars in higher education and his commitment to find ways to combat our ever-growing backlog of capital needs that in some cases directly affects the learning experience of students and limits enrollment growth in certain degree programs."

On Friday, Wolfe will give the State of the University address, his first since becoming system president in December 2011.

Since the board's meeting in December, three curators have been appointed by Nixon to the nine-member board: Ann Covington, 4th congressional district; John Phillips, 5th congressional district; and J. Michael Ponder, 8th congressional district.

If approved by the Missouri Senate, all three curators' terms would expire in January 2019.

Covington was the first female judge to serve on the State Supreme Court when former Gov. John Ashcroft appointed her in 1989. Before her appointment, she was a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, and served under Ashcroft as assistant attorney general.

Covington, a Columbia resident, retired from the bench in 2001.

Phillips is an attorney who has spent the past 40 years working in business, education and health organizations in the Kansas City-area. He served for 15 years on an advisory council for the Henry W. Bloch School of Business at UMKC. He works for the Husch-Blackwell law firm.

Ponder, of Cape Girardeau, is a partner in the Cape Girardeau law firm of Cook, Barkett, Ponder and Wolz and has served on the State Board of Education since 2009.

All three are graduates of the University of Missouri School of Law.

The board's full agenda, meeting documents and presentation materials are available on the UM System's website. The system will stream audio of Thursday's meetings online at www.umsystem.edu/curators/stream.

Columbia Missourian reporter Dan Burley will be reporting from the board's meetings in Kansas City on Thursday. Follow his reporting online and on Twitter at @CoMissourian and with the hashtag #umcurators.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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