SB 389 seeks to tie tuition to Midwest CPI

Parker Willis

Tuition stabilization may be good for students, but at the same time it may not be so good for universities.

Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) has included a tuition stabilization program as part of his omnibus higher education bill (SB 389).

He said he included this in his bill because right now students and parents are at the mercy of the universities when it comes to tuition raises.

“At the moment there’s no protection at all against the spiraling cost of tuition,” Nodler said.

This stabilization would associate tuition increases to the Midwest CPI (Consumer Price Index). Universities would not be able to raise their tuition above the rate of inflation.

But, there are some ways around that. If an institution wants to raise its tuition beyond the rate of inflation it would have to get approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. If it does not get approval and then raises tuition anyway, it will be subject to a fine.

While this is good for students and families, some senators believe stabilization will hurt the universities more than it will help the students.

“Midwest CPI does not reflect institutes of learning’s increases in cost,” said Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence) “Our cost of living increases less than anywhere in the country, so they’re using a deflated CPI to reflect the cost of our universities and it’ll put them in real jeopardy.”

Shoemyer said if an institution loses a point or half a point a year it doesn’t sound like it will affect that university much, but after 10, 12 or 15 years the universities will suffer.

“That is one of the concerns this institution has, because we’ve had instances like in 2001 when the state cut 10 percent of funding, and so if that situation were to happen again, where we could not raise tuition more than inflation, then the only solution would be to eliminate some programs in order to make the budget balance,” said University President Julio Léon.