Capping tuition

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri system, has suggested a guaranteed cap on tuition for undergraduates, an idea that, if implemented, would be popular with students and parents who write ever-increasing checks as college costs rise at double-digit rates.

This year, MU imposed a 7.5 percent tuition increase on top of several other increases in the last five years. If MU curators approve, the plan would start with next year's summer semester.

While students entering MU would have their tuition capped during their undergraduate years, it can be assumed that tuition still could go up for each new class of entering freshmen.

Southeast Missouri State University's president, Ken Dobbins, says a tuition cap isn't likely here. And for good reason: It's all a matter of scale.

All public universities have had huge tuition increases because less and less funding is coming from the state. Seventy percent of a public university's funding used to come from the state. Now it's around 50 percent.

MU is slated to get more than $400 million in state funding this year. Southeast's share is nearly $44 million. If MU had forgone its most recent tuition boost, it would have generated only a few million dollars less in revenue -- a small fraction of the university total operating costs. But if Southeast had not raised tuition over the past five years, it would be generating more than $6.3 million less each semester -- a big chunk of its operating costs.

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