In a continued push to boost enrollment, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is lowering tuition costs for students living in Kansas and 15 other Midwest states.
The move, approved Thursday by the University of Missouri Board of Curators, takes UMKC’s slogan “Border Schmorder” to a whole new level and creates two new tuition rates for students from outside Missouri.
UMKC developed the “Border Schmorder” slogan when it offered in-state tuition rates to students from 11 counties in Kansas. Under a new Kansas rate, residents of every county in the Sunflower State would pay the same tuition as Missouri students.
A second new tuition payment program will be called the Heartland Rate. Under that program, students who are residents of 15 contiguous Midwestern states will pay 150 percent of the in-state rate paid by Missouri residents. That’s much lower than what those students would pay now.
Boasting that UMKC has outstanding research opportunities, low student-faculty ratio, and the opportunity to engage with a major city, Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, interim chancellor and UMKC provost, said in a statement that UMKC “can’t afford to allow cost to be a barrier to young people who appreciate those advantages and view UMKC as the perfect launching pad for their careers.”
With the new Kansas rate, students who qualify would pay the Missouri in-state rate of $278 per student credit hour — a savings of almost $14,000 a year for a full-time student taking 30 credit hours.
The new Heartland Rate is $417 per student credit hour, compared to $768.90 for residents of states from outside the 15-state Heartland region. That would be a savings of about $10,000 a year for a full-time student with 30 credit hours.
Both new rates go into effect this fall.
UMKC developed the Heartland Rate by expanding an existing program in which UMKC and universities in nine other states agreed to accept each other’s students at a tuition rate that is 150 percent of the rate paid by in-state students.
North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are participating in that reciprocal student exchange program.
To create the Heartland Rate, UMKC added South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas to the mix — offering students from those states the 150 percent in-state tuition rate, but without the reciprocal agreement.
The reduced tuition rates come as UMKC officials compete for students with area universities that recently have also taken steps to lower the cost of a college education.
Two weeks ago Missouri State University announced it is reducing the number of credit hours needed to complete a bachelor’s degree for 80 percent of its programs, knowing that the faster students get through college the less it costs them. MSU is also expanding scholarships, freezing housing rates and lowering meal prices, and making less expensive textbook options available.
Also at play for Missouri universities is Gov. Eric Greitens recent budget recommendation for a $68.1 million — or 10 percent — reduction in higher education spending.
With state funding cuts on the horizon schools are looking to increase enrollment and bring in more tuition dollars. UMKC has a plan to boost enrollment to 20,000 from its current 16,000 students.
“We have been planning for this so we have the staffing and the physical space for additional students,” said John Martellaro, university spokesman.
While UMKC’s two new tuition rate reduction plans are good for growing enrollment, they may seem to detract from the need to increase revenue.
No so, Martellaro said. “We are expecting growth, so while we might get fewer dollars per student, we expect to make that up but having more students. We are ready to open our doors.”