A plan to increase tuition above the rate of inflation at MU and throughout the UM System was proposed Thursday to the system’s governing board.

The University of Missouri System Board of Curators is likely to take up the proposed increase next month at a specially called meeting. It was unclear whether the board would vote on the increase then or at a future meeting.

At their daylong meeting, curators discussed the plan, presented by the system’s top finance officer, as well as a new undergraduate veterinary tech program at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, new policies banning relationships between faculty or staff and students and the system’s five-year capital plan.

Tuition rates

Ryan Rapp, chief financial officer for the system, presented the 2022 operating budget and proposed 2021-22 tuition increases. He talked about the system’s revenue struggles, pointing out MU’s low tuition as compared with peer institutions, as well as low support from the state.

“We do know that low sticker price and low state support has hurt our competitiveness,” he said.

Rapp compared the UM System’s financial resources to public university systems in surrounding states. At $18,970 per student, from a combination of state funding and tuition, the UM System ranks behind Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee.

“We’re seeing these students go to other SEC schools with higher sticker prices, which impacts our state’s workforce,” Rapp said.

Federal and state stimulus money provided temporary relief, Rapp said, but as a long-term solution, he recommended a tuition increase. For fiscal year 2021, he estimated the system would get $167,258 total stimulus.

Rapp said tuition increases 2% to 3% above inflation are necessary to support student success and academic excellence.

He recommended the following tuition increases for resident and nonresident undergraduates and resident and nonresident graduate students at the four system schools:

• At MU, tuition rates would increase by 5% for all four student groups.

• At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, tuition would increase by 4.1% for nonresident and resident undergraduates and 4% for resident and nonresident graduate students.

• At Missouri University of Science and Technology, tuition would increase by 3.5% for resident undergraduates and 3.4% for nonresident undergraduates. Graduate students would not be affected.

• At the University of Missouri-St. Louis, tuition would increase by 2% for all four groups.

“To me, it’s about being competitive and being able to offer more degrees,” Rapp said.

The UM System hopes to move toward a differential tuition model in which student fees are rolled into the tuition price. Although tuition has been capped, the system has raised regularly raised fees to make up for not being able to raise tuition.

Rapp and University of Missouri President Mun Choi said they believe this tuition increase would allow students to graduate faster and save tuition money.

“I think it will reduce the total cost of education because it will allow us to better serve those students to graduate them faster and also allow us to offer them different degree programs,” Rapp said.

At a news conference after the meeting, Choi said the increased tuition would allow the campuses to hire more faculty and offer more courses, giving students more opportunities to earn their required credits. When asked whether the system had any information regarding how often a lack of course offerings caused students to delay their graduation date, Choi said it had anecdotal evidence from students.

Choi said the system plans to return to the board in May to discuss this further.

Several curators said they understood the system needed more money. No one voiced disapproval about the plan.

MU capital improvement

Rapp also presented the system’s five-year capital improvement, which the board unanimously approved.

In 2021, the system plans to spend $48.68 million at MU, the bulk of which — $31.68 million — will go to a new indoor practice facility for the football team.

In 2022, the system plans to spend $30 million at MU for an addition to the veterinary medical laboratory.

In 2024, the system plans to spend $12 million demolishing Pickard Hall, which was closed in 2013 after radioactive contamination was found inside.

Policy amendments

The board also approved revisions to several policies, including amendments to the staff grievance policy and consensual romantic relationship policy.

The amendments will update what constitutes a grievance and reduce the steps in the grievance process.

The amendments will also expand the policy to cover prior consensual relationships, broaden the definition of supervisory authority, prohibit consensual romantic relationships between faculty or staff members and undergraduate students and create a process for requesting policy exceptions and appeals.

New degree program

MU will now offer a fully online Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology.

Cindy Cravens, a veterinary doctor with the College of Veterinary Medicine, said the new program is projected to have 100-125 students after three to four years and will fill a gap between associate’s degrees and graduate programs.

It will be the first such program in the state.

“We are passionate about the development of the (program) as an innovative response to the increased demand,” Cravens said, “and we’re thrilled to be the first college of veterinary medicine to answer that call.”

  • Assistant city editor, summer 2021. Former education reporter, spring 2021. I am a Masters student studying news editing. Reach me at madisonjstephens@mail.missouri.edu or on Twitter @MadiStephens6.

  • I'm a reporter covering city and county government and other public life topics and an assistant city editor. I also study investigative journalism at MU. Reach me at wksg8b@mail.missouri.edu. You can also find me on twitter @WillSkipworth.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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