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Missouri curators approve tuition, fee increases

Missouri curators approve tuition, fee increases

January 28th, 2011 in News

COLUMBIA (AP) - Tuition at the four University of Missouri campuses will likely increase for the first time in three years after a vote Friday by the systems' Board of Curators.

Curators voted 5-3 in favor of a 5.5 percent average increase for in-state undergraduates as well as out-of-state residents, who pay more. They rejected an alternative proposal by curator Don Downing to cap the increases at 5 percent.

The tuition boost must still be approved by the state Department of Higher Education because such hikes are supposed to be no more than the federal government's annual inflation rate, which most recently was 1.5 percent. The university system plans to submit its request to the education department Tuesday, with a response expected by April.

While most university leaders expect the increases to be approved - the education department is led by David Russell, a longtime university leader who most recently was the university president's chief of staff - the pending tuition hike drew criticism from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

"This tuition proposal is well beyond the increase in the cost of living allowed by statute," Nixon said in a written statement released late Friday afternoon. "Universities should look first at achieving every efficiency in their operations before taking this type of action that affects families' ability to pay for higher education.

The governor said he expects the requested increase to "get the scrutiny it deserves" from Russell, the higher education commissioner.

The approved hikes vary from 4.7 percent at the St. Louis campus to 6.6 percent at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. The Columbia campus wants a 5.8 percent increase, while the Kansas City campus is recommending a 4.8 percent increase

The eight curators also endorsed increases in a slate of student fees, though not as much as suggested by university administrators.

Undergraduate students from Missouri who take a standard 15-credit course load now pay $3,684 in tuition each semester, while out-of-state students pay $6,008. A 5.5 percent increase would translate into a $203 boost per semester for in-state students and a $330 hike for out-of-state undergraduates. The fee increases would be on top of that.

University administrators recommended fee increases of 6.5 percent in most academic programs but double-digit percentage hikes in four disciplines, including business and journalism. Several curators suggested that nearly doubling the $35.50 charge per credit hour in the Trulaske College of Business would draw criticism from Jefferson City lawmakers, and possibly invite greater cuts than the 7 percent recommended in Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed budget.

Curators eventually approved raising the fees by half of the original recommendation, with an equivalent increase planned in the 2012 academic year. Campus housing costs were increased by 4 percent.