JOPLIN — Missouri Southern State University is facing a $1.1 million state penalty after it raised tuition rates by 15 percent next year.

The university's tuition and fees are slated to increase by $900 to nearly $7,000 during the upcoming school year, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Nearly all public colleges in Missouri are expected to raise their tuition next year, but only by 1 and 2 percent. Under Missouri law, institutions must return part of state funding if tuition is raised more than the Consumer Price Index, which ranges between 1 percent to just more than 2 percent in recent years.

Missouri Southern State University President Alan Marble has requested a one-year waiver from the Missouri Higher Education Department in an effort to avoid the penalty. The state Commissioner of Higher Education is accepting public comment through June 19 on the request from the university in Joplin.

Marble wrote in a May 22 letter to Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan the tuition hike is intended to make up for state funding cuts. The university's state appropriations fell from $26 million in 2010 to slightly more than $22 million this year.

"The cuts are always painful and they've come at a time when we have seen dramatic increases in enrollment as well as compounded academic and facility needs," Marble said. "This tuition increase is a result of multiple years of underfunding and while we understand and appreciate the need to remain affordable for students, we have an obligation to keep the university viable and strong."

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