Southeast regents approve tuition increase to take effect 2011-2012 year

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents approved a tuition increase Tuesday, but students will not see the effects for at least a year.

The board approved a 2.7 percent tuition increase for Missouri undergraduate students, but the university will not charge it. The increase amounts to $5 per credit hour.

University officials said the change is in accordance with an agreement with Gov. Jay Nixon that freezes tuition but allows for future increases, if needed.

University officials have been preparing for $7.76 million in budget cuts over the next two years. They recommended two actions during Tuesday's meeting to account for dwindling state financial support, a bond sale for maintenance and the tuition increase.

"We at least would be able to react a little bit better," said Kathy Mangels, vice president of finance and administration.

Missouri, Northwest Missouri, Missouri Western and Missouri Southern state universities took similar steps with tuition, Mangels said. Overall, state universities froze tuition for the upcoming academic year as part of an agreement with the governor to limit funding cuts to higher education at 5.2 percent.

Each year universities can only increase tuition as much as the consumer price index increases, according to state law. The university could start charging the $5 per credit hour increase along with another increase when they consider tuition rates in the spring. If charged, it would generate $883,300 for the university.

While universities are not directly taking budget hits, other cuts have an effect, said Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins. When the governor announced $280 million in budget cuts last week, the Access Missouri Scholarship program was cut by $50 million.

"There are other pieces that will affect us," he said.

During the meeting, the board approved the university's $97.2 million budget. The university will receive $44.7 million from the state and $49.1 million from student fees.

With declining state resources, the budget relies more on fees, Mangels said.

"It's a shift that's been going on and we see it continuing," she said.

Because capital improvement funds from the state are also scarce, university officials proposed looking into alternate means of financing campus renovation and maintenance projects.

The board approved looking into issuing $40 million in bonds that would fund renovations to science labs and Academic Hall. It would also address millions in deferred maintenance. A plan is expected to go in front of the board in the fall.

Southeast receives $1.7 million from the state and matches $300,000 to maintain university buildings, which are valued at about $500 million, Mangels said.

During the meeting, Mangels held up an example of a deteriorating pipe from Academic Hall, where there were six water leaks in two years. The building, which is more than a century old, houses admissions, financial aid and other administrative offices.

"We have a lot of important records and processes in that building that we have to salvage," Mangels said.

When bills were being processed for the spring semester, a pipe burst in the registrar's office. Waterlogged checks and bills were laid out to dry, Dobbins said.

The board unanimously approved a resolution that would allow the university to hire a bond underwriter and further analyze maintenance projects.

Before the vote, regent James Limbaugh said the university has no choice but to be more self-sufficient.

"There's a sense of urgency, frankly," Limbaugh said.


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One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO

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