MU students should prepare for another increase in educational fees, commonly called tuition, starting with the summer semester.
University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd said Friday that he would propose a 7.5 percent increase in fees this week at the UM Board of Curators meeting, which begins Thursday in St. Louis. Floyd said he hopes the curators, who have the final say in system decisions, will endorse his proposal.
“We felt that it was necessary to keep our tuition recommendation as low as we possibly could,” Floyd said.
The increase would see in-state undergraduates pay $14.60 more per credit hour, or a total of $6,276 per year for a full class load of 30 hours per year. It would mark the third consecutive year the system has raised educational fees above what UM calculates as an inflationary rate. It would, however, be the smallest of the three increases.
“I have made a commitment to the people of Missouri to keep their state university as affordable and accessible as possible,” Floyd said in a news release. “The recommended fee level is the minimal amount needed for our campuses to compensate for reduced state appropriations and increased costs of operations due to inflation.”
Relatively large increases — compared to the previous five years when fees were raised by around 3 percent yearly — started in 2001. The main reason has been the steep decline in state support.
Tuition increases are a national trend. The average increase at four-year public universities last year was 10 percent, according to a study done by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
Declines in state appropriations are happening nationwide as well. Missouri though, is doing particularly bad, and is ranked among the worst states in the country in its support of higher education. The state cut higher-education funding by 14 percent over the past two years, and the UM system has suffered withholdings and cuts totaling $158 million over the past three years.
The Missouri General Assembly has yet to decide on higher-education appropriations for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Nikki Krawitz, UM system vice president for budget and administration, said system administrators hope to receive at least $377 million of the $476.5 million they asked for.
Krawitz said the proposed tuition increase would pay for a 2 percent increase in the salary pool, among other things. She said that because there have been no increases in state appropriations, educational fees must be raised to balance the budget.
“The increase is to cover the increases in cost the university experiences just from existing,” Krawitz said.
Krawitz added that even if the university gets $377 million it hopes for, withholdings during the year can’t be ruled out.
David Breneman, an expert in higher-education finances from the University of Virginia, has been studying the recession and its impact on universities. Breneman predicted there will be no upsurge in states’ funding of higher education but added that state budget-makers have begun to realize they have cut enough.
“There is an argument that higher education has been cut enough so the cuts will slowly stop,” he said.