Financial report highlights bright spots in UM system budget situation

Enrollment grew in 2010, but tuition held steady.
Ashley Lane / Graphic Designer

The UM system’s fiscal year 2010 report sheds a positive light on the university’s financial status, despite talks of budget cuts and a possible tuition increase.

The report, an analysis of the collective finances from all four campuses of the UM system, praised the university’s flat tuition for undergraduate in-state students for this year, its increased financial aid of more than $5 million, a continually fully-funded pension plan and flat non-compensation expenses, which include university expenses other than personnel costs, such as supplies, travel and professional services.

The 2010 net tuition per student for the four system campuses came out to $7,709, which is $200 less than the 2009 net tuition. Net tuition is the amount of tuition the university collects in a given year minus the total of scholarships and discounts awarded.

"You'll see by looking at the 2010 annual report that we've really been able to hold costs even in light of increased enrollment," UM system spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said. "It costs more when you have additional students."

The total financial resources of the UM system per student amount to $39,139.

The UM system Board of Curators will meet Thursday and Friday in St. Louis and will continue the discussions on tuition rates, which is typically determined at the January meeting in Columbia.

UM system President Gary Forsee said in the report the UM system enrollment grew to more than 71,000, bringing the growth in enrollment since fall 2000 to 15,600 students in 2010.

"In their own right, these numbers are impressive, but they are even more so when you take into account a burgeoning enrollment that has resulted in 15,600 more students coming to one of our four campuses in the last 10 years," said Nikki Krawitz, UM system vice president of finance and administration, in a news release.

The system is outlining new programs to halt its yearly increase in expenses.

Total operating expenses increased by $53.1 million, or 2.2 percent, in fiscal year 2010 compared to an increase of $72.9 million in fiscal year 2009.

"In fiscal year 2010, our non-compensation expenses increased only a half percent, and we are in the midst of benchmarking our administrative processes to identify shared service opportunities with a goal of reducing costs and improving service quality," Forsee said.

Hollingshead said a rise in students comes at the same time as a rise in energy costs for utilities, such as electricity.

"That we've been able to hold our non-compensation expenses relatively flat, at half a percent of an increase, is really a testament to the university's continued focus on cost cutting," Hollingshead said.

According to its website, the UM system believes this report shows its continued commitment to be good stewards of state resources.

"In so many ways, the four campuses of the University of Missouri System advance the education, economy, health, culture and overall prosperity of the state and the citizens we serve," Forsee said.

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