Decision coming on tuition

News that the University of Missouri System Curators had approved a tuition increase of 5.5 percent has echoed across higher education in the state.

With an anticipated reduction of 7 percent in state appropriations coming for the next fiscal year, colleges and universities have eyed increasing tuition and fees.

Any increase above the Consumer Price Index, however, must be granted through a waiver.

Missouri Southern last spring increased tuition from $143 per credit hour to $148.60, but deferred collecting the increase until FY 2012.

Whether the University will increase tuition again remains to be seen.

“The Board of Governors is still looking at that, trying to determine what to do,” University President Bruce Speck said this week.

“We don’t know what will happen,” he said. “We don’t know if the 7 percent is firm. If it goes beyond that, then of course that’s a different budgetary issue.”

Speck said the Board would wait and see what the state legislature says this spring. He said Missouri’s decision to increase tuition was met with a “very sharp” response from Gov. Jay Nixon.

“The Gov. certainly didn’t think it was reasonable,” Speck said. “He came out with a strong statement against that, saying it was too much.”

Speck also said if Southern doesn’t seek a waiver, there may not be future opportunities for one.

“Initially this appeared to be a great opportunity,” he said. “We had a great argument for increasing it, but if we have the political pressure that says no, the 5.5 percent is too much, then all of a sudden the waiver becomes a political football and it becomes very difficult to know what to do.”