JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri state colleges and universities are being warned not to consider tuition increases greater than the inflation rate despite Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposals to cut appropriations by 10 percent in the coming fiscal year.
State law limits tuition increases to the general increase in consumer prices unless the Department of Higher Education grants a waiver. The limit would be 2.1 percent this year, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported .
“We have been discouraged from submitting waiver requests,” Missouri State University president Clif Smart said. He declined to mention where the discouragement was coming from.
Smart was one of six university presidents to appear before the House Appropriations-Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. The leaders detailed how their institution has handled budget cuts over the past two years and the impact of Greitens’ plan for additional cuts. The schools saw a 7 percent cut in fiscal 2017 and 9 percent in the current fiscal year.
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The cuts have resulted in larger classes, caused schools to create early retirement programs and led to closing buildings to reduce maintenance costs.
“If cuts continue, we would have to consider significant tuition increases, which we would rather not do,” said Bob Vartabedian, president of Missouri Western State University.
Every president who testified Tuesday requested that lawmakers put off implementing Greitens’ performance funding plan that puts another 10 percent of each college’s allocation in jeopardy.
The Coordinating Board for Higher Education revised the state’s performance funding system last year, changing some of the benchmarks schools must meet. The changes set 10 percent of existing appropriations aside and release the money based on performance. Greitens adopted the change as part of his budget plan, cutting 10 percent overall and making 10 percent of the remainder dependent on school performance.
Republican Rep. Lyle Rowland, who chairs the subcommittee, said he will try to grant the education leaders’ request.
Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com