León: Tuition will be highest amount ever

León: Tuition will be highest amount ever

Chart Staff

León: Tuition will be highest amount ever

Jessica MacIntosh

During the Feb. 17 Board of Governors meeting, the Board approved a 4-percent increase in tuition from $125 to $130.

“[The decision was made] because we expect a 2-percent increase in appropriations,” said University President Julio León.

León said a 2 percent increase amounts to about $400,000.

“That amount of increase in appropriations from the state will give us only a very small amount,” he said.

León said state appropriations used to cover about 70 percent of the total budget of the institution, and tuition covers the other 30 percent.

He said over the years, the state provided a smaller amount of the total budget.

“Essentially the state has told us that the students have to pay a larger share,” he said.

He said now the state covers approximately 45 percent of the total budget and the rest is tuition costs.

Missouri Southern has to pay more than $170,000 for health-care insurance, more than $100,000 in contributions to the retirement system and about $160,000 for utilities, León said.

“It’s not going to be enough to cover some of the increases in cost that we already know we are going to have,” he said.

He also said the Board approved $180,000 in faculty promotions.

“We suggested to the Board that we would like to give everybody on this campus a 2-percent increase in salary,” León said. “Inflation was 3 percent last year, so that doesn’t even cover inflation, but we feel that we need to do a little bit.”

With the figures combined, León said tuition had to be increased.

“That’s why we recommended that we increase tuition by four percent,” he said.

The University is the first to announce the increase in tuition, León said. He said tuition at every institution in the United States will be the highest it has ever been.

“We still think that it’s going to be the lowest increase in tuition in the state because from what I hear other campuses, the University of Missouri for example, [are] talking about a 6-percent increase in tuition next year,” he said.

León said the year before Southern lowered tuition and two years ago, they did not increase it.

“When you go back three years, this increase is only $3 more per credit hour than it was three years ago,” he said. “We hope that that is evidence that we have tried as much as we can to keep tuition to a minimum.”

He said students not only pay the lowest tuition in the state, but also they save money on textbooks. Students rent textbooks for $5 per credit hour.

“On the average, students have to pay about $500 per semester just in textbooks and usually you don’t get much after you sell them,” León said. “Over here, you pay about one-third of that. I would not be surprised if students by renting textbooks with us [saves] around $800 a year.”

Southeast Missouri State University and a community college are the only other institutions in the state that rent textbooks, he said.

León said it is not easy increasing tuition.

“We do know that many of our students have a hard time paying for tuition, and we have tried to provide scholarships and financial aid,” he said, “and there’s financial aid from the federal government, and then our students have to work in order to make it. We were happy the last two years to keep it level and then lower it a little bit.”

Dr. Terri Agee, vice president for business affairs, said it is difficult.

“We are very committed to keeping the student tuition cost low,” Agee said. “I think in the past we’ve shown our commitment to that, being either level or reduction. But the increased costs are there and we have to face them and we have to make adjustments.”

She said she thinks with the increases they have had over the years, they have tried to keep them as “reasonable” as they can.

“It’s one of the facts of life, unfortunately,” León said, “and it’s not a very nice thing, but that’s just the way things are.”