Affordability for our students is an important part of what we do at Missouri State.
We have a great record of affordability. While tuition and fees have increased by 50 percent at universities throughout the country, our tuition has tracked with inflation. Our tuition and room and board expenses are also lower than most of the other four-year public universities in Missouri.
Our work on affordability has primarily involved holding down increases on tuition and fees. This becomes more challenging each year when the budget tightens, as it will again in the coming year. Fortunately, there is more to affordability than just the amount of tuition and fees.
Last week we announced five new initiatives to make Missouri State University more affordable.
- Hours reduction – We have decreased the total number of hours required to graduate from 125 to 120 hours. This change is effective immediately. Special thanks to Dr. Cindy McGregor, Dr. Thomas Dickie, and our other faculty and SGA leaders for recommending this change.
- Food service – We renegotiated our food service contract with Chartwells to reduce the allowable increase for student meal plan charges. Under the old contract, the allowable increase was 4 percent. Under the new contract, the allowable increase will be the greater of CPI or 2 percent.
- Housing freeze – We are freezing housing rates for three residence halls next year — Hammons, Hutchens and Scholars — which impacts about one third of our inventory.
- Textbooks – We have rolled out a “StreamlinED” textbook program that will significantly reduce costs for textbooks in larger sections of lower-division courses through open sourcing and other cost-reduction strategies.
- Scholarship expansion – We are increasing the value of our Missouri State Promise Scholarship by $500. We are also expanding the criteria for several scholarship programs to increase the number of students that will receive those scholarships.
These are win-win affordability initiatives that will provide students with substantial savings without putting significant pressure on the university’s budget.
The state budget and what it means for MSU
Yesterday the Governor released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2019. These recommendations include a 10.12 percent cut to Missouri State University’s core operating appropriation. This is $8,668,086 less than the General Assembly’s core operating appropriation to Missouri State last year and $10,368,665 less than 2001. To put that in perspective, our enrollment has increased by over 6,000 students since 2001.
As you know, this is not the first budget cut we have experienced in recent months and years. In fact, we have experienced three other recent reductions in state funding over the past year:
- FY17 withholding of approximately $6.7 million
- FY18 budget reduction of $6.5 million
- FY18 withholding of approximately $2.7 million
The impact is that per student funding for Missouri State is the lowest of any public university in the state, and it continues to decline as state funding shrinks and the number of students enrolling at Missouri State grows.
State funding and tuition and fees make up 98 percent of Missouri State’s operating budget. Accordingly, as we face another tough year with regard to state funding, we must evaluate tuition and fee increases.
While our strategy to develop a budget will involve administrative reductions and developing creative revenue sources, these efforts will not alone be sufficient to offset the state funding reductions we anticipate. We are confident that the affordability measures we announced last week will soften the impact of any tuition and fee increases for our students.
We will advocate with our elected leaders to reduce the level of cuts in the budget passed by the General Assembly. Meanwhile we will work through our budgeting process to determine what impact the Governor’s budget recommendations will have in fiscal year 2019. Our first Executive Budget Committee meeting is scheduled for the first week in February.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!
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