Gov. Nixon announces increased funding for higher education

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon announced Monday a 6 percent increase in funding for the higher education system in Missouri.

Nixon said he is proposing an additional $55.7 million in funding for the higher education system in his budget for fiscal year 2017 for public two and four year institutions.

"With this six percent increase, institutional funding for Missouri public higher education institutions will reach $985 million," Nixon said.

College chancellors and presidents agreed to dedicate at least $9.2 million of the increase toward science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources and programs.

Gian Goff is a student at the University of Missouri and said there should be a more affordable education option for students and families.

"The cost, I think, is a little high, a little too high," Goff said. "I think just the overall affordability of college is not worth going for a lot of people because it's difficult."

He said he doesn't think there is much of a reason to charge such a high rate for a college education.

"I don't necessarily think that charging someone $50,000 a semester or a year is necessarily reasonable, but I think prices should drop at some point," Goff said.

University and college officials also agreed to take the proposal of freezing tuition rates for next year to their respective advising boards.

Nixon said the tuition freeze would help students get on their feet after college.

"This tuition freeze is good for students, families and our economy as a whole," Nixon said. "Because the less debt students take on when they're in school, the more they can spend when they graduate - buying a car, starting a business, and pursuing their dreams."

UM System President Tim Wolfe attended the news conference and said the UM Board of Curators has yet to approve the tuition freeze for students in the UM system.

President of the St. Charles Community College and Chair of the Missouri Community College Association's Presidents/Chancellors Council Ron Chesbrough said community colleges also have the potential to freeze tuition rates next year.