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UM System Students Likely To Face Tuition, Fee Increases Again Next Year

"The Columns" on Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
(via Flickr/Adam Procter)
"The Columns" on Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

Updated at 5 p.m. following the presentation to the Board of Curators.

Students at the four campuses of the University of Missouri system are likely to face tuition and fee increases again next year as the school struggles to cope with an ongoing decrease in state funding.

The university's Board of Curators heard the  tuition and fee proposal at its meeting today in St. Louis. A vote would come in January, and the final budget must be approved in June. The increases are, for the most part, belowlast year's boost of 3 percent, and mean an undergraduate student from Missouri will pay about $270 per credit hour.

"Fiscal year 2013 tuition and required fees at all of the University's of Missouri campuses are less than the pub doctoral average of $9,539," said Nikki Krawitz, the vice president of finance and administration. "An education at any one of our four campuses is a great value."

Here are some of the highlights:

  • All graduate and undergraduate students at the Columbia and Kansas City campuses, and resident undergraduates at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, would see an increase at the rate of inflation, which the curators estimate will be 2 percent.
  • Non-resident undergraduates and all graduate students at MS&T would see an increase of inflation plus 2 percent.
  • The University of Missouri-St. Louis is proposing a system where tuition and required fees would be paid on a credit-hour basis.
  • Most of the professional schools will see an increase at the rate of inflation, although six programs are seeking increases above that number. The veterinary school in Columbia, for example, wants a 6 percent boost.
  • First and second-year medical students in Kansas City would see no increase in tuition.
  • Supplemental fees, with about a dozen exceptions, will go up by 2 percent. The biggest jump there is in the science lab fee at the Columbia campus, which would more than double.
  • There are also five new fees, including a $500 per semester fee for students in their third year or above of accounting program in Columbia, and a $250 per semester fee for voice studios in Kansas City. Accounting students already in the program will pay $300 a semester.

But the tuition and fee increases will not generate enough money to cover the promised boosts in salaries and benefits to university professors, whose pay continues to lag behind their national counterparts. The preliminary budget has a gap of about $25 million, and that does not include $50 million in deferred maintenance.
Krawitz admits it's an unsustainable situation.

"We have to look at possibilities for additional revenue generation, and then look at more efficient and effective ways to carry out the business that we're in," she said. She said that over the last five years, the university has cut about $275 million in costs, compared to $175 million in new revenue.

State funding is expected to be flat - it was $790 million last year, putting Missouri well below the national average in per-pupil expenditure for higher education. And because tuition increases above inflation need approval of the state Commission of Higher Education, it's possible that not all of the expected revenue will come in.

And Krawitz says today's preliminary budget does not take into account the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that could take effect on January 1.

"That will have an impact on our research funding that our faculty get, and it could potentially have some impact on financial aid, it will have an impact on our extension system," she said.

 Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.