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All Illinois students now eligible for in-state rates at UMSL

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is extending its in-state tuition rate further into Illinois, offering the cheaper price to all the state’s residents, not just those in the Metro East.

The University of Missouri curators approved the change Thursday as part of its quarterly meeting, held in Columbia at the system’s flagship campus.

The board met with just six members, because Gov. Eric Greitens recently withdrew two appointments made by former Gov. Jay Nixon and the student representative removed himself.

Extending its in-state tuition rate is part of a broader effort by UMSL to boost a declining enrollment rate. The school has seen 6 percent fewer students the past few semesters. There were 10,872 students on campus in the fall 2016 term.

Chancellor Tom George told curators he hopes about 100 more Illinois students will enroll in the fall because of the lower rate.

About 140 more Illinois students took advantage of the perk when it was offered to the counties closest to St. Louis, bringing in a half million dollars, UMSL said.

The slumping enrollment is exacerbating UMSL's budget deficit. The school was working through a $15 million funding gap since Greitens cut about $9 million in state assistance to UMSL in the past few weeks. The governor’s budget for the coming fiscal year includes deep cuts to all state higher education institutions.

That's led UMSL to consider a tuition increase for the 2018-2019 school year that would be higher than the normal inflation adjustment. Such a move would require curators' approval and a waiver from a state law that caps tuition increases. Right now, in-state students pay $5,032.50 per semester for a normal course load. Non-residents pay $13,138.50.

Curators did approve a room-and-board increase on Thursday. It varies by campus — from 1.1 percent at UMSL to 4.6 percent at Missouri S&T, which has the cheapest housing and meals costs.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.