Missouri tuition hike could mean prestige boost

COLUMBIA (AP) — University of Missouri officials suggested Friday that an expected tuition increase will do more than just plug holes in campus budgets weakened by years of declining state support — it will boost the school’s reputation.

Some out-of-state students and parents who equate a college’s price tag with academic excellence could see the increased cost as a reflection of the university’s prestige, they said.

“It’s not just price,” said Warren Erdman, a Kansas City lawyer and chairman of the university system’s Board of Curators. “It’s also a brand perception.”

Curators held a video teleconference Friday morning to discuss campus finances in advance of a late January meeting in Columbia, where they plan to increase tuition for the first time in three years.

The exact amount of the fee hike won’t be determined until Gov. Jay Nixon releases his proposed budget next week. School officials hope to keep the increase below 10 percent.

Undergraduate students from Missouri and take a standard 15-credit course load now pay $3,684 in tuition each semester, while out-of-state students pay $6,008. A 9 percent increase would translate into a $332 boost per semester for in-state students and a $541 hike for out-of-state undergraduates. Those amounts don’t include required student fees.

Proposed fee increases range from 1 percent to 3 percent at the Columbia and St. Louis campuses to 6.5 percent at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. The proposed increases in room and board costs range from 2.8 percent at the Rolla campus to 8.3 percent at Missouri-St. Louis.

Chancellor Brady Deaton told curators that the Columbia campus could expect to enroll 200 more out-of-state students should tuition increase by 10 percent next year, with many of them likely coming from neighboring Illinois. Deaton didn’t say how he came to the 200-student figure, but noted that prospective students and their families often consider a costlier school to mean a better education.

Columbia, the flagship campus, typically recruits nearly as many students from Chicago as from Kansas City, Deaton said.

Tuition for the coming academic year is typically set in the spring. But university leaders want an early start because Missouri law requires a waiver from the state to raise tuition beyond the Consumer Price Index inflation rate, which is currently 1.5 percent.

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