In-state students will see a 3 percent increase in tuition next year and out-of-state students will see a 7.5 percent increase, after the UM System Board of Curators approved the respective rises Monday.
The board voted to hold tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students to the rate of inflation, or a $268 increase per semester, according to a UM System news release. Graduate tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents is also set to increase by 3 percent.
Board of Curators chairman David Bradley said the board realized the financial hardship that significant increases in higher education could bring to Missouri families.
“The UM System faces rising operating costs just like all businesses,” Bradley said in the news release. “The board’s decision to hold tuition increases at all four campuses to the rate of inflation is a result of increased operating efficiencies, the governor’s reduction of the proposed cut in state appropriations and our commitment to ensure that a college education is attainable and affordable to all Missourians.”
Corbin Evans, legislative director for the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, said the increases could not only discourage students from applying but also affect students currently enrolled.
“We acknowledge the fact this could decrease the number of Missourians who are able to attend,” Evans said. “Students who are looking at graduating without debts could suddenly be looking at student loans. Worse, students could no longer be able to finish their four years.”
Given the situation, junior and ASUM intern Sydney Miller said she understands why the board made its decision.
“(ASUM) is very aware the budget outlook for the system is very grim,” Miller said. “I agree that it needed to be done, but I am sad to see students footing the bill.”
In the original budget proposal, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a 12.5 percent cut to higher education. He announced earlier this month $40 million would be added to higher education funding, dropping cuts to 7.8 percent.
Even with the reduction in cuts and the increase in tuition, the UM System still faces a $47.1 million budget gap, UM System President Tim Wolfe said in the release. The gap will likely result in personnel cuts, program eliminations and diversion of planned investments in strategic priorities.
Miller said though the added $40 million was a life saver for higher education, it was important to realize the additional funding was not enough.
“My fear is that people think the $40 million extra will be enough, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Miller said.
Miller also said though students tend to be the focus of funding issues, faculty should be taken into account, as well.
"With higher education funding cuts, people tend to focus on the students, but UM also has a hiring and salary freeze,” Miller said. “We need to have competitive wages and the best faculty in order to stay competitive as a university with other states."
For the fiscal year 2012, MU tuition fell below the average tuition of other Southeastern Conference schools by $1,194, according to a UM System presentation.
According to the news release, between the fiscal years 2007 and 2012, UM System annual tuition increases have averaged 2.7 percent, compared to the average 6.2 percent tuition increases in surrounding states.
“In comparison, Missouri has had lower tuition costs than most surrounding universities,” Evans said. “It has been a haven of more affordable education but is now treading the line of becoming more expensive.”