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Mo. community colleges agree to freeze 2010 tuition

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – Missouri community colleges have agreed to freeze tuition next school year if state officials promise not to severely cut their budgets.

Governor Jay Nixon announced today that community colleges have promised to not raise tuition for in-state students if budgets are cut by only 5.2 percent. That amounts to roughly an $8 million-dollar budget cut.

"I think it's a good deal for Missouri and I think that the legislature, as they did last year, will find this a very strong step for Missouri and I certainly expect them to work with us, as they did last year, to implement this agreement," Nixon said in a conference call with reporters.

Nixon says it's good news both for students and for the schools.

"When you compare these to the dramatic cuts that you're seeing in parts, quite frankly, of our state as well as in other states, we think that they wanted to have this guarantee of predictable funding," Nixon said.

The budget deal would affect how much money colleges and universities get starting next July. The schools can set their tuition rates, but the Legislature must approve the state budget.

The agreement is similar to one Nixon announced earlier this week for Missouri's four-year colleges and universities.

Some state lawmakers have applauded the agreements, while others say that a five-percent cut in funding may not be enough next year. If lawmakers make deeper cuts in higher ed funding, the schools would be free to raise tuition rates.