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UM curators raise tuition by 1.7 percent

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2013 - Students at the University of Missouri will pay 1.7 percent more in tuition starting this summer — less than the 2 percent originally expected — under a schedule approved unanimously Thursday by the Board of Curators.

Meeting in Kansas City, the curators adopted the recommendation of university officials to raise tuition just by the rate of inflation as measured nationwide in December. State law requires that any tuition increase greater than inflation needs a special waiver from the Department of Higher Education.

The increase will raise tuition at the university’s St. Louis campus to $9,426, the second-highest of the system’s four campuses. Tuition at Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla will be $9,450, followed by $9,343 at Columbia and $9,076 at Kansas City.

Officials emphasized that the base tuition is what universities term the “sticker price” — what students are charged before any financial awards are taken into account.

UM officials said full-time Missouri resident undergraduate students averaged grants of $4,287 in the 2011-12 school year. If a comparable level of grants is awarded for the school year beginning this fall, such students would pay an average of $5,037.

“Setting the price of tuition is a balance between keeping education affordable for our students and providing the resources necessary for the university to remain a quality academic institution,” Wayne Goode, chair of the board, said in a statement following the vote.

“Our below-average tuition compared to similar institutions — combined with our high-quality education, ground-breaking research and service to the state — set us apart as the No. 1 provider of higher education in the state.”

Added university President Tim Wolfe:

“As the premier institution of public higher education in the state, we consistently show value by providing the citizens of Missouri with high-quality, affordable public education.

“Our modest tuition increases during the last several years, combined with our continuing commitment to identifying ways to be more efficient and effective that last year alone resulted in an $80 million savings to the university, help ensure that an education from the four campuses of the University of Missouri System is within reach for any student who desires one.”

The university system has raised tuition by an average of 2.3 percent each year for the past five years. That figure compared with a 6 percent increase by comparable schools in surrounding states, the university said.

Curators also voted to increase graduate tuition rates for resident and nonresident students 1.7 percent at Mizzou and UMKC, 4.4 percent at Missouri S&T and 1.9 percent and 5.9 percent at UMSL. Officials said the rates are based on market conditions in each location.

Also starting with the new school year, UMSL students will for the first time pay an all-in-one charge that includes tuition and fees instead of separating the two amounts out. It is the only campus in the system to do so, in an effort to give students a more realistic idea of what their education will cost.

Emphasizing that the UM system is affordable despite the tuition increase, officials told the curators that the current average tuition of $9,305 is less than the public doctoral national average of $9,539 and well below the private doctoral national average of $35,660.

Tuition rates were set as part of university officials’ overall budget picture, including state appropriations. Estimates for money from the state budget range from an optimistic increase of 3 percent to no increase to a pessimistic cut of 1 percent.

In his State of the State address earlier this week, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed an increase of $35 million in Missouri’s spending for higher education. Most of that money would be linked to a new plan under which funds would be allocated based on schools’ performance.

The governor is scheduled to discuss the plan in a visit to Northwest Missouri State University at Maryville on Friday.

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