University of Missouri System schools on Thursday proposed raising base tuition and required fees by 2.1 percent for in-state undergraduate residents for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
For University of Missouri-Kansas City students, that would mean paying $192 more each semester, raising the cost from $9,172 to $9,364. University of Missouri students would pay $199 more.
Citing “significant financial and budgetary pressures” on the system’s four campuses in Kansas City, Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis, university officials propose raising tuition equal to inflation.
Enrollment at the Columbia campus for the 2016-17 academic year dropped by 2,182 from last year, a 6.2 percent decline, its lowest since 2010.
System officials called the proposed tuition and fees increase “modest” and said it would generate roughly $14.4 million in revenue across the four campuses.
The system Board of Curators, which heard the proposals Thursday, will vote on them at a special meeting planned for May.
Missouri universities are prevented by law from raising base tuition and required fees above inflation. However, the law does not include fees that were passed by student referendum, such as the $399 that UMKC students pay for their student union and transportation.
The law does not prohibit a higher-than-inflation increase on fees for programs that cost significantly more to deliver to students, such as engineering, nursing and dentistry. Fees for the programs vary by campus, but most of those increases would be about 3 percent to 5 percent.
“We need the revenue,” said Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance for the system. Rapp gave the tuition increase presentation during the curators meeting at the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla. The meeting was streamed online.
Cheryl Schrader, chancellor at Missouri S&T, told curators about the need to preserve the academic core and to expand and diversify the university’s revenue stream. But at the same time, Schrader said, it is important to “continue looking for ways to become more efficient with the revenue we do have.”
Curators expressed concerned that if certain course fees increase every year, students may have difficulty calculating the true cost of tuition for some programs. They also worried that the campuses might price some students out of certain areas of study.
“I’ve heard some students say that using fees as de facto tuition makes it hard to put their finance package together,” said Curator David L. Steelman, chairman of the board’s finance committee.
Other curators said they were concerned that some may think the system is trying to use fee increases to do an end run around the mandated tuition cap.
Curators plan to review how programs are priced in the fall.