Students at Missouri universities will pay 1 percent more in tuition next school year — but leaders say the increase could have been twice as much.
On Monday the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a 2.1 percent tuition hike, but university leaders said they will only charge 1 percent more, as part of a deal with legislators who agreed to not cut the university's budget.
The budget bill the legislature passed last week called for core funding to remain at last year's $395.8 million level. The governor has not signed off on that yet, but legislators expect he will.
"Sounds like they kept their end of the deal," said state Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Shell Knob, who brokered the deal with the university. The deal also allows university officials to raise tuition to the full 2.1 percent if state funding falls through. "Revenues would have to fall off a cliff for that to happen," Fitzpatrick said.
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A 2.1 percent hike is the amount allowed under state law, which limits tuition increases to inflation.
"We are very aware of the financial burden that students and their families face, and our chancellors and their administrative teams have been working exceptionally hard to keep our tuition low over the past several years," David Steelman, chair of the Board of Curators, said in a statement.
"Through the combination of our campus leaders and the legislators, we are able to keep tuition at four of the state's premier universities very low," he said. The campuses are in Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis and Rolla.
Over the past decade, "the University of Missouri has had one of the lowest rates of tuition increase in the U.S.," said Ryan Rapp, UM vice president for finance.
At University of Missouri at Columbia, a full-time, undergraduate resident student taking 15 credit hours will pay about $85 more next school year. At University of Missouri-Kansas City, that student will pay $83.40 more.
UM System President Mun Choi said that even with this latest bump in tuition, "our campuses have reduced other costs so that the overall cost to students remains low." Choi mentioned such cost-saving measures as a new textbook affordability initiative and increases in need- and merit-based scholarships.
Choi also mentioned the UMKC partnership with KC Scholars college savings program launched in 2016, to provide scholarships, financial incentives and support services for low- and modest-income students.