JEFFERSON CITY — Representatives on both sides of the aisle voiced concerns over removing the tuition cap for Missouri community colleges and public universities Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
The tuition cap removal is a measure in House Bill 297, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, which also includes measures concerning the advanced placement course credit and the Student Right to Know Act, which makes college costs more transparent.
While lawmakers voiced overall support of the bill, several argued that the tuition cap measure, which would go into effect July 1, 2022, acts as a “poison pill.”
Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, argued that the removal of the tuition cap will have a negative impact on families paying for their children’s tuition. He said he believes universities already have enough funding with their current tuition levels, citing the average salaries of UM System professors.
Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, also stated he found the removal of tuition caps unnecessary but encouraged lawmakers to still pass the bill.
The bill specifies that colleges and universities that exceed the current tuition cap will no longer be able to charge required course fees. However, lawmakers are concerned that restrictions on these fees will not balance out tuition raises.
Rep. Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, said she found it ironic that a bill that is meant to promote going to college also makes tuition less affordable for constituents.
Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale, said the state’s budget is partly to blame.
“We’re gonna be putting this burden on the students because we’re not funding institutions correctly and properly,” Windham said.
Windham also voiced his concerns on the legislative process this bill went through. He said that the tuition cap amendment was added to the bill in the Legislative Review committee and that higher education committee members were not able to vote on this measure previously.
Despite the concerns of these representatives, the bill was passed and sent to the Senate.