St. Louis, MO – Governor Jay Nixon and the presidents of Missouri's thirteen universities have reached a deal on tuition and state funding.
Under the agreement, the universities will not increase tuition next year and in exchange, state funding will remain level in the budget for fiscal year 2010.
The agreement will lead to cuts in other areas, Nixon told a standing-room only crowd at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, but said that "at this time it's not in the best short-term or long-term interest of the state of Missouri to once again go to higher education and ask them to ante up dollars that literally are dollars invested in our future."
Universities have the exclusive right to set tuition and fees, so the agreement does not have the force of law.
The freeze-funding swap will also not stop cost-cutting measures at the University of Missouri's four campuses. UM-St. Louis chancellor Thomas George called the deal a better scenario than contemplating budget cuts of 25 percent.
"But costs still go up, and if we have salary increases for faculty and staff, our maintenance and repair costs go up, utilities go up, we're going to have to do cost-cutting measures, even with this scenario," he said. The deal also does not address potential cuts in the current state budget, which is running a $342 million deficit, and it comes too late for some Harris-Stowe students, whose tuition has gone up by an average of more than eight percent a year in the last 10 years. Sophomore Amber Mitchell knows at least three people who had to drop out during their senior year because they could no longer afford tuition.
"It's sad, it really is, especially when they put in so much time and effort and then when it comes down to them graduating they can't do it," she said.