Tuition, student fees will increase

Tuition and student fees are increasing at Missouri Southern.

The University’s Board of Governors on April 15 approved increasing tuition to $163 per credit hour, a $20 hike. The Board also approved increasing out-of-state tuition to $326 per credit hour, a distance education fee increase from $50 to $60 per credit hour, an increase in application fees from $15 to $25 and a distance learning library fee of $4 per credit hour.

“There was a lot of discussion among the Board members and the other resources that were there concerning the increase,” Governor David Jones said afterward. “Nobody wants to create problems for students financially and nobody wants to create problems for students’ families because when finances are hard it also affects the family but I thought about this a lot.

“This place has been here a long, long time and it has helped a lot of people and it has to stay here,” Jones added. “It’s important that this University exist and so as a member of the Board of Governors I look at this and it turns out to be a balancing thing.”

Jones said the increases will ensure that Southern maintains good facilities and a good education. The University is facing a 7 percent reduction in state appropriations for fiscal year 2012.

The tuition hike must still be approved by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education because it exceeds the tuition levels set according to the Consumer Price Index. University officials have said the process of applying for and receiving a tuition waiver will take several weeks.

The increases will be applied beginning in the fall semester, with the exception of the increased application fee, which is set to take effect July 1.

Board member Lynn Ewing said that nobody likes having to raise tuition.

“The motion that is on the floor is something that is fiscally sound but certainly not excessive,” Ewing said during the meeting. “We’ve got to keep the doors open. We’ve got to have a first-rate university and we want to minimize the impact on students.”

Jones said members of the Board’s budget committee looked at several models projecting the University’s financial status in coming years with different levels of tuition increases.

“Every one that was offered to us that was below what we chose, the University would be in the red all the way through 2015 at least a quarter of a million dollars,” he said. “We had to make a choice that would keep the University out of the red and make it function without really putting a real bind on the students so it was a balance to keep the University at the high level it is and give the students the lowest level tuition we can where it all works out.”

Jones told The Chart that he doesn’t view the $20 increase as a stop gap measure. He said the tuition increase will help Southern through difficult times in the future even if the state economy doesn’t improve.

“We have kind of accumulated some funds and put back for hard times, but if we hadn’t done this and say the times get worse and the economy puts a real drain on education, we could get into more financial difficulties down the road and I think the amount we chose enables the University to proceed forward the next 4 or 5 years without any financial duress,” he said.

Lower cut possible

As Southern prepares for a 7 percent cut in state funding, some hope might be on the horizon.

The Missouri Senate approved a budget plan Wednesday that would only reduce funding to public colleges and universities by 4.8 percent.

Gov. Jay Nixon proposed the 7 percent reduction, and that amount was approved by the House. The two chambers must reconcile their differences.

The Associated Press reported that Senators struck a deal with higher education officials to reduce costs for students, with officials agreeing to try and increase scholarship amounts or reduce fees.