A deal has been reached between Gov. Jay Nixon and Missouri's higher education institutions to keep undergraduate tuition level for the next school year The following news release was issued:
ST. LOUIS - For the second year in a row, in-state, undergraduate students at Missouri's four-year, public colleges and universities won't see tuition or academic fees rise by a penny.
That's the good news Gov. Jay Nixon announced today during visits to the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri State University in Springfield.
"To turn this economy around, Missourians must be trained, educated and ready to work, and that's why it was vital that we kept tuition flat for Missouri families," Gov. Nixon said. "As tuition skyrockets by double digits in other states, university leaders, faculty members and my administration have worked together to put Missouri students first and protect them from tuition spikes for the second year in a row. By helping keep higher education affordable, we are taking bold steps to prepare the workforce that will move Missouri forward."
Under a new agreement with Gov. Nixon, Missouri's public, four-year schools have agreed not to impose a tuition increase on in-state, undergraduate students for the 2010-2011 school year. Despite economic challenges that are requiring difficult cuts throughout state government, Gov. Nixon has agreed to maintain higher education funding at approximately 95 percent of the current fiscal year's appropriation. This works out to be a reduction of 5.2 percent, or $42 million. This agreement is subject to approval by the General Assembly and the institutions' governing boards.
If approved, this will be the second consecutive year Missouri students have benefitted from a tuition-freeze agreement between Gov. Nixon and leaders of the state's public four-year institutions. Under a similar agreement for the 2009-2010 school year, Missouri's four-year, public colleges and universities froze tuition in exchange for stable funding in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. Prior to last year's freeze, tuition at Missouri's public, four-year colleges and universities increased by an average of 7.5 percent a year over the past decade.
This innovative partnership among higher education leaders, faculty members and Gov. Nixon's administration is helping prevent the dire situations emerging in many other states, where tuition has jumped by an average of 6.5 percent nationally in the past year. In some states, that increase has been as much as 17 percent.
"Higher education is one of the best ways Missourians can ensure their competitiveness for the jobs of the 21st century," said Carolyn Mahoney, president of Lincoln University and president of the Council of Public Higher Education. "To turn this economy around, we must help more students access our programs and learn at our institutions. This agreement will help keep higher education affordable for Missouri students and families, and it will help our institutions fulfill their missions even during these challenging economic times."
Gary Forsee, president of the four-campus University of Missouri system, said the state's universities share Gov. Nixon's desire to ensure that Missouri's families continue to have access to quality education.
"The governor's action today strikes the best balance in a difficult and fiscally challenging time for our state," President Forsee said. "This agreement mitigates the magnitude of the cut that higher education would otherwise have received and enables us to hold undergraduate tuition flat for one more year. Our dedicated staff, faculty and administration will continue to be part of the solution as they focus on our long-term role to prepare the state's future workforce, do groundbreaking research, and create jobs through economic development."
Michael T. Nietzel, president of Missouri State University, said that this continued partnership will have real benefits for Missouri's students.
"First and foremost, higher education is about our students, and we must ensure that a four-year education remains as affordable and accessible as possible," President Nietzel said. "I am pleased that our institutions have been able to partner with Gov. Nixon once again to make sure tuition remains flat for Missouri students, while funding for higher education remains strong. During these difficult economic times, we must all be willing to compromise and do our part to help move Missouri forward. We appreciate Gov. Nixon's commitment to higher education, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to do what's best for Missouri students."
Under the agreement with Gov. Nixon, the institutions may put a tuition increase on their books for next year, but will not charge in-state, undergraduate students for that increase. This agreement will take effect upon approval of the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation, as long as the approved appropriation at least matches the Governor's recommended budget.
"I thank the leaders of Missouri's four-year colleges and universities, the faculty members, and all those who came together to make this agreement possible," Gov. Nixon said. "We've all had to make tough choices about ways we can become more efficient and maximize our limited resources. By working together, we have been able to preserve our shared priority of making higher education as affordable as possible for Missourians. That's something that should make us all proud."