The Maneater

Tuition to increase at least 1 percent in fall 2018

The 1 percent increase was settled on after the UM System Board of Curators struck a deal with Missouri lawmakers to keep state funding.

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The UM System Board of Curators voted unanimously in May to increase tuition and fees at its four campuses for fall 2018.

The board voted to approve a 2.1 percent increase in tuition and deferred all but 1 percent for in-state undergraduate students. Under state law the university could have charged the full 2.1 percent, but the curators struck a deal with state lawmakers, who agreed not to reduce state funding for universities. This will preserve last year’s level of state funding.

“I believe the legislators see the value of public higher education and the value that we provide to the state of Missouri,” UM System President Mun Choi said in a press conference. “Recently when we conducted an economic study, it demonstrated we have a $5.4 billion impact to the state each year, which represents a 13.5-times return on investment.”

Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, said that the 2.1 percent increase is a “ceiling” for the tuition price in the coming year. The university only plans to assess a 1 percent increase in resident undergraduate students in exchange for lawmakers receiving the same amount of state appropriations as the prior year. Non-resident and graduate students will be charged the full 2.1 percent increase.

Rapp also said the tuition increase was driven by the overall United States inflation of 2.1 percent in 2017.

The 1 percent increase isn’t across the board. Other professional school students could see tuition increase anywhere from 1.2 percent to 6 percent depending on the program. While the MU School of Medicine will see a 6 percent increase for all enrollees, Missouri resident tuition for MU School of Veterinary Medicine students will be raised 4.1 percent.

A complete schedule of all tuition and fee changes is available on the board’s website.

The decision involved a number of different factors, including the impact of competitiveness of pricing and affordability for students, Rapp said.

Pricing for tuition and other fees must also keep a similar quality of education for students and Rapp said such decisions requires an investment.

“Bear in mind the tuition increases are at or lower than inflation, and the university’s appropriation remained flat over what will be received in 2018,” Rapp said.

In addition, Rapp said the state of Missouri ranks last in the growth of tuition and state support per student since 2008.

“As resources per student shrink, the university is forced to make difficult decision on both the type and number of programs offered and the levels of services provided,” he said.

The board also struggled with making decisions on the type and number of programs offered and the levels of service provided at the different schools.

“All of this is happening at a time when students continue to bear a larger share of the cost of a public education and in many cases expect more out of their education,” Rapp said.

Because the university chose to increase tuition by only 1 percent, MU had to then review the types of degree programs offered and reduce the number of employees to offset enrollment declines, he said.

MU recently announced there would be a $49 million gap in the budget and they would be eliminating 185 positions from the university, 30 of which are layoffs.

To offset the increase, Rapp also provided several examples of other initiatives that have been put in place to keep public higher education affordable. There have been new textbook initiatives introduced recently, such as the AutoAccess option for classes, which have resulted in textbooks at the Mizzou Store being, on average, 18 percent cheaper this fall than they were in fall 2016.

“[The university’s] price is one of the lowest in the country,” Rapp said. “We remain very competitive compared to some of our peers. It’s important that we take note of that and ...we’ve had a very successful legislative session this year.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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