The UCM Board of Governors approved a tuition and fee increase to take effect fall 2019.
The 5% increase was approved March 15 at the Board of Governors meeting. Tuition is increasing by $12 for on-campus undergraduate students and $15 for on-campus graduate students, according to a news release. Full-time flat student fees are also increasing approximately 1.3%.
Bill Hawley, vice president of finance and operations, said the state changed the Higher Education Student Funding Act’s formula, which is determined by two factors: the change in consumer price index and how state appropriations to universities have changed over the past two years.
Hawley said there was a 1.9% increase in CPI and state appropriations dropped approximately $3 million since 2016, resulting in the increase.
Hawley said the university books the full increase, but the university typically waives a portion for flexibility.
“The booked basically means ‘OK, the state says we can charge X amount of dollars per credit hour potentially,’” Hawley said. “But, we will typically waive a portion of it. The reason we book the full amount is because it’s a cumulative thing over years and it just gives us flexibility in the future should we need to do something.”
Hawley said the board approved the maximum rate of $7,735.15 for 30 credit hours for in-state undergrad students but waived $2.60 per credit hour from the rate.
Hawley said the university can reinstate the waiver amount in certain cases, such as additional appropriation withholdings from the state. He said there are no plans to reinstate the booked rate at this time.
“We could have, because our booked rates gave us more of a ceiling, gone higher than even what we did, but we backed it down so the overall impact was a 5% increase,” Hawley said.
Hawley said tuition and fees increased primarily because of a decrease in state appropriations and an increase in operational costs, such as software licenses, faculty promotions and an increase in Missouri State Employees Retirement System, a retirement plan for university employees.
“We’re running pretty lean,” Hawley said. “There’s not a lot out there to reduce without it really starting to impact the quality of instruction and everything here.”
President Roger Best said state appropriations were similar to that of 2003.
“Our funding today is the same level we had in 2003, not accounting for any inflation,” Best said. “If you look at what inflation has done over time, we should be getting about 40% more from the state than we’re actually getting.”
Despite the increase in tuition and fees, Hawley said the University Foundation is looking to assist students.
“The Foundation is trying to ramp up the fundraising in order to provide more assistance,” Hawley said.
Hawley noted in a news release that scholarship funding has increased by 62% over the last decade, increasing 27% since 2016 alone.
John Collier, president of the board, works to keep increases low.
“The Board of Governors always takes any type of fee increase, whether that be tuition increase or in fees increase, seriously and has to weigh a lot of options,” Collier said in a phone interview. “One of our goals is to always try to attempt to hold tuition steady. We’ve been successful over the last number of years at holding tuition and increases as low as possible.”
Collier said the increases were necessary to maintain quality of education, despite the decrease in funding from the state.
“We try to take a look at it from the incoming student’s perspective, as well as current student’s perspective and the family’s perspective,” Collier said. “Also, part of our obligation is to maintain quality programming and facilities.”