University of Missouri and UMKC students will pay 5% more in tuition this fall

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After more than a year of budget cuts to afford more student scholarships and research, University of Missouri System schools are hiking up the price tag on tuition for undergraduate students come this fall.

The system’s Board of Curators on Wednesday approved a tuition increase of 5% at all four campuses — in Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis and Rolla. That jump represents the system’s largest increase in tuition in the last five years.

“We are very aware of the effect of tuition increases on our students and have worked very hard over the past two years to keep the costs of college under control at University of Missouri institutions,” Jon Sundvold, who chairs the UM board, said in a statement.

Sundvold thanked the state for its financial support — although state funding has dwindled over the years — but said “we must take this action to ensure that students are receiving the best education possible and have access to opportunities — such as undergraduate research projects, study abroad programs, hands-on learning classrooms and the latest technology.”

In the last five years University of Missouri undergraduate resident tuition rates have increased by 1.2% per year on average while inflation has averaged 1.5%. State law prohibits Missouri public colleges and universities from raising tuition above inflation.

University officials said that even with the increase — ranging from $14.20 to $17.40 per credit hour — tuition increases at Mizzou over the last decade have been the lowest among all the 50 flagship state universities across the country.

Along with the tuition hike, required fees will go up by 1.5% or $6.90 at MU, 2.7% or $13.10 at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and 8.9% at UMKC. At UMKC that translates to an additional $45. Students approved the fee increase to cover upgrades to the campus library.

Despite the tuition and fees hike, university officials boast that this academic year, donors provided more than $50 million to be matched by the universities for scholarships. Some of the campuses also have reduced room and dining rates and partnered with publishing companies to reduce the cost of textbooks.

“Thousands of University of Missouri students experienced a net decrease in the cost of a college education this year compared to last year as a result of the hard work of our university leaders,” UM President Mun Choi said. “We remain focused on affordability and being held accountable for every dollar we spend.”

Last month MU committed $25 million to student scholarships, faculty raises and research at the same time it announced cuts as high as 10% from the budgets of divisions across the university. Those changes will be reflected in the budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1.

Some graduate students also are being tapped to pay more. The board also approved increases in tuition for two professional schools: an 8% increase for the MU School of Medicine and a 5% increase for the UMKC School of Pharmacy.

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Mará has written on all things education for The Star for 20 years, including issues of school safety, teen suicide, universal pre-K programs, college costs, campus protests and university branding.