Missouri universities could see another increase in tuition

Posted on 7 March 2018 at 4:31pm
Story image: Missouri universities could see another increase in tuition

JEFFERSON CITY - The higher education committee voted to move forward with changing state university tuition caps Wednesday, which could clear the way for higher tuition for students.

After several hearings, the committee voted 7 to 1 in favor of removing the cap. 

Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, voted in favor of the bill. He said he wants to make sure the legislature controls the rising cost if tuition increases. 

"The real answer is the states really have to fund it, public education, college, universities at the higher rate than they're doing, and that will definitely keep the cost down," Adams said. 

Adams was a teacher for 33 years and paid for college himself. 

"If you're going to a public university, I mean yeah, you've got to pay something, but you shouldn't be coming out with debt that's going to take you a billion years to pay off. That's crazy," he said. 

The Missouri National Education Association supports the bill as well. State affiliate for the MNEA, Otto Fajen, said this will benefit universities during these tough budget cuts. 

"There's no simple easy answer for kids when the state is not investing enough in higher education, but where we come down is on the side of quality and being there and having the programs our kids need," Fajen said. 

Fajen said if it takes increasing tuition, the MNEA supports that. 

"From what we can tell, students will really support that too because they know they want the kind of quality and programs that they really need," he said. 

Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville, was the only lawmaker on the higher education committee who voted against the bill. 

"I had questions about the implementation of the cutoff date, so by law we're supposed to finish the budget by the end of May, but that doesn't give families much time," Chipman said.

Chipman said he's concerned families won't have enough notice to budget for possible tuition increases if they go into effect this fall.

"I don't think it's fair to the kids or to the parents," he said. 

Chipman said he's in favor of what's called differential tuition, which considers the student's degree when determining the tuition.

"If you get a degree in English or if you're an elementary school teacher, the minimum pay for an elementary school teacher is $25,000. Maybe we make that degree a little bit cheaper than the engineer who is going to start off making more money," Chipman said. 

House Bill 2348 will now move to the Rules Committee for another vote, then it could head to the House floor.