Guaranteed tuition proposal dropped

Elson Floyd will pitch alternative plans to the curators this week.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:30 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Guaranteed tuition, which would set students’ tuition for four or five years, will no longer be considered for the University of Missouri System. However, UM system President Elson Floyd will present an alternative proposal to curators when they meet this week in Kansas City.

Under Floyd’s proposal, tuition increases would hold to the rate of inflation — as long as the state provides annual inflationary increases in its support of the system.

“We are saying that tuition increases would be kept to the rate of inflation, assuming state support would also be increased at the rate of inflation,” spokesman Joe Moore said.

Moore said if state support slips and doesn’t meet the inflationary cost increases, then the difference would be made up in tuition, meaning tuition would be more than the inflation rate.

Floyd dropped the guaranteed tuition plan following his tuition tour of communities throughout the state, in which he sought input on the plan in public forums.

“During that time, he found that students generally did not support the concept of guaranteeing tuition for four- or five-year periods,” Moore said.

Parents found the idea of being able to predict tuition costs appealing, he said, but they wondered about its feasibility. Students had other concerns.

“Students expressed concern that people taking the same class at the same time could be paying widely varying rates,” Moore said.

Business leaders also questioned whether the university would be able to predict with enough certainty state appropriation levels for a four- to five-year period, Moore said.

In the end, Moore said, Floyd did not want to recommend a policy without the support of the people the policy would most affect: students and parents.

Undergraduate resident tuition for the UM System has continued to rise in recent years, from $4,104 in 2000-01 to $6,276 this fall. The most dramatic increases came in the fall of 2002, when tuition jumped 14.8 percent from the previous year, and in the fall of 2003, when it jumped 19.8 percent.

Traditionally, state revenue has covered more of education costs than tuition revenue. In 2004, tuition revenue exceeded what the system gets from the state — $401 million compared to $377 million.

Moore said Floyd has been working closely with state leaders to find alternative solutions.

“This process is going to continue,” Moore said.

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