Curators Unanimously Approve Tuition Hike Across UM System

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COLUMBIA - The UM System Board of Curators unanimously approved a tuition increase Monday for all four campuses, specifically hiking in-state undergraduate rates at MU by three percent.

The vote means in-state students' tuition at MU will increase by the rate of inflation of the Consumer Price Index instead of an average of 6.5 percent, the figure university leaders proposed less than a month ago. Since then, Gov. Jay Nixon funneled about $40 million into higher education, allowing administrators to lessen tuition increases for Missouri residents. 

However, the new funding will not cut out-of-state undergraduates a break. The vote Monday increased their tuition by 7.5 percent. Also, students in MU's Business, Journalism, Health Professions and Engineering colleges and schools will see additional hikes in fees. The Trulaske School of Business, for example, will raise costs by more than 32 percent, a total of more than $17 per credit hour.

Stephen Kunkel, a junior business major from Chicago, said the out-of-state and College of Business tuition increases will force him to stay in Columbia over the summer to establish in-state residency.

"That's pretty much gonna change all my internship hopes for the summer," Kunkel said. "I have to get [a job] inside Columbia... and it's going to keep me further separated from my parents at home."

Even families in Missouri feel the pain from the three-percent increase. Karl Bryda's two children attend MU, and he said he will work with his wife to tighten the family budget. Bryda said he had planned a financial course for his two sons with four or five years of stable tuition in mind, meaning the family will now sacrifice other areas to help pay for school.

"All of the sudden that financial timeline has changed," Bryda said. "So where are you making your cuts? It directly affects our lifestyle, our day to day lifestyle, our monthly lifestyle and our yearly lifestyle." 

Bryda's family would pay even more for MU had the state not settled a mortage lawsuit to raise funds for higher education. Though UM System administrators are technically waiting for final approval on that settlement, president Tim Wolfe said he is "fairly certain" the board will not need to alter finances again.

Still, the UM System faces a $47 million gap in funding, meaning it will also need to eliminate more than 200 jobs. In some cases, officials will simply leave positions unfilled. According to Nikki Krawitz, the vice president for finance and administration, about a third of those eliminations will include firings, however.

"We need help. We need money," Wolfe said. "In some cases, there are programs, functions and roles that we can no longer afford."