Curators give measured support to tuition bill

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:00 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

The University of Missouri System Board of Curators gave measured support Tuesday for a bill in the Missouri legislature that would modify several provisions in the state’s higher education system.

Included in the bill are provisions that would stabilize tuition and reform Missouri’s financial aid system. If adopted in its current form, the bill would mandate that universities that raise their tuition more than the consumer price index lose 5 percent of their state funding.

“If the legislature is determined to put those kind of controls on the university, we probably don’t have a lot of wherewithal to stop them from doing that,” said Curator Bo Fraser.

The bill, which was introduced Monday by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, would also combine the state’s primary need-based financial aid programs, the Charles Gallagher Award and the Missouri College Guarantee Program, into a single program.

Steve Knorr, the UM System vice president of government relations, said he expects the bill to come to a vote early in the legislative session, possibly before the end of March.

While the curators, who discussed the bill on a conference call, agreed to support the legislation, they agreed that several provisions may be difficult to fulfill. One such provision requires universities and colleges that charge over $100 per credit hour submit tuition and fee increases to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education at least three months before the beginning of the academic year.

Curators have already said they support another provision of Nodler’s bill, which mirrors Gov. Matt Blunt’s plan to sell $335 million worth of assets from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to fund construction projects at state colleges and universities.

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