Maggie Recca discusses the new plan to lower the cost of campus living

Maggie Recca, president of MU’s Residence Halls Association, discusses a new plan to lower the cost of campus living Friday at Rollins Commons. The goal is to allow students to live and eat on campus for less than $1,000 a month.

MU’s campus dining and housing rates will be lowered by 3.5 percent in the fall of 2018, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright announced Friday.

The housing rate will be reduced for one-third of campus housing options, and the rates for the rest of the housing options will remain flat. Cartwright said he believes this is the first time housing rates have been reduced.

“This will allow many students to live and eat on campus for under $1,000 a month,” he said.

Now, students with the lowest-cost plan pay $1,068 a month, or $9,610 a year, MU spokeswoman Liz McCune said. With the change, students will pay $998 a month, or $8,980 a year, she said.

Students who use the most commonly chosen plan now pay $1,119 per month, or $10,070 a year. With the change, they’ll pay $1,080 a month, or $9,720 a year, McCune said.

The reasoning behind this plan is to help students and families cope better financially and to minimize the number of students with college debt, Cartwright said.

These changes come in the wake of three other MU affordability plans: the Missouri Land Grant Compact, changes to the student charge that prevent students from accumulating debt for non-academic expenses and an affordable textbook initiative.

Tuition fees for the UM System were increased by 2.1 percent in May after a vote from the UM System Board of Curators.

Currently, 45 percent of MU students graduate with no federal loan debt, Cartwright said. And those students with loan debt have 25 percent less debt than the national average, a difference of $7,000, he said.

Although Cartwright said the numbers are good, he emphasized the financial strain that an education creates.

“We know that college is still an expensive investment for students and their families,” he said.

But students who live on campus have better outcomes and more graduate on time, Cartwright said.

“We know that living in a dorm and being a part of a Freshman Interest Group has been proven to lead to student success,” he said.

The details of this plan, according to an MU news release, also include:

  • The cost of 1,320 beds in community style rooms will drop 2.2 percent.The cost of 464 beds in double rooms in Hatch Hall will drop by 5 percent.
  • Students will be given an option to live in certain halls year-round.
  • A new economy dining plan will be added, with 150 meals per semester.
  • A new flexible dining plan will be added that will work at multiple locations, including the Student Center.
  • The dining plan requirement will be eliminated for returning students.
  • Plans for 175 and 225 meals per semester will be merged into a plan for 200 meals per semester.

Asked during a press conference if the changes were a “move in desperation” to bring more students to MU, Cartwright said no.

“I understand how hard work is needed to pay for an education,” he said, “and this is an opportunity for us to try and reduce those costs as much as we can.”

Gary Ward, the interim vice chancellor for student affairs, echoed the sentiment.

“This is the right thing to do for MU students and their families,” he said. “We have lowered the cost of education material for students across the UM System by more than $1.3 million” between fall 2016 and fall 2017.

The changes to housing costs are a result of listening to feedback from students and their families, according to an MU news release.

Maggie Recca, a sophomore and the president of MU’s Residence Halls Association, believes students are being heard.

“The dean of students (Jeffrey Zeilenga) constantly asks us, what can we do?” Recca said. “The cost of an education and student debt isn’t a secret, so it is the first thing we came up with.”

Recca said she believes the housing rate decrease is proof that MU is responding to the concerns of students. This is a plan that will help alleviate stress and make students feel more comfortable at MU, she said.

“Our student voice is loud, and administration is listening,” she said.

As someone who has to pay for her education herself, Recca said she knows student debt is a reality that many students face. Many students will be relieved and excited with lowered rates, she said.

With this new plan, Recca said, “the dream of becoming a Tiger will become a possibility for more students than ever.”

Supervising editor is Sky Chadde: news@columbiamissourian.com, 882-7884.

  • Spring 2018 Public life reporter. I am a junior studying investigative reporting. You can reach me at dylansherman@mail.missouri.edu or 816-602-0681.

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