Nixon Proposes Funding Increase for Keeping Tuition Level
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Dec. 11, 2013) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that he will recommend to the legislature a proposal to increase state funding for colleges and universities by 5 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, if schools are willing to maintain tuition at the current level. If approved by the legislature, this will mean a possible increase of approximately $2.6 million to help the University of Central Missouri meet its strategic priorities.
“Missouri’s commitment to maintaining the lowest tuition increases in the nation was strengthened by today’s announcement,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “We strongly affirm keeping costs low and are prepared to recommend to our Board of Governors a tuition proposal that will keep our tuition flat – at the FY 2014 rates. Since the state's agenda for higher education was outlined in 2010, Governor Nixon has provided a consistent focus on keeping the costs of college low and it has had a direct impact on our student's ability to access and complete college.”
Ambrose pointed out that UCM is receiving $52 million in state appropriations this fiscal year, which is the same amount of funding it received in 2006, and $5 million less than what was appropriated in 2000. State funding today makes up 39 percent of the university’s annual revenues compared to 49 percent in FY 2006 and 65 percent in FY 2000. Tuition totaling approximately $81 million accounts for 61 percent of UCM’s current revenue.
The university in recent years has developed a Strategic Resource Model that has helped the institution navigate through fiscally challenging times. It has also taken a number of steps to help keep higher education affordable.
“UCM’s Strategic Resource Model has been a tremendous asset, and has greatly aided our overall financial outlook at a critical time,” Ambrose said. “Keeping tuition increases at a minimum and ensuring the university continues to provide a good value proposition for students remains a key priority for UCM.”
Ambrose said the university continues to seek ways to reduce its dependence on state support, while still focusing on student success. Administrative and academic reviews, salary savings from vacant positions, and savings in areas such as facilities management, energy management, faculty early retirement, bond and capital lease refinancing, and a reduction in athletics’ general operating expenses have generated $7.7 million in cost-savings initiatives between fiscal years F2011 and 2014. While doing so, UCM has strived to keep education costs down. The university has experienced an average annual tuition increase of only 1.78 percent since 2010, which is below the consumer price index.
UCM has also taken other measures to help reduce the cost of an education for students. The Learning to a Greater Degree contract for student completion became effective for the fall 2013 semester. This initiative is designed to help students graduate within four years after beginning their college education at UCM. Students are required to take the “right” 15 semester hours, meet with their academic advisor on a regular basis, attend class, and reside in residence halls for the first two years of college. By doing so, they will graduate on time, and ultimately save money on their education.
To help reduce the cost of their higher education, the university also awards approximately 450 scholarships annually with funding provided through the UCM Foundation. More than $1 million in scholarship assistance was awarded last year, and the university is on track to increase awards by 17 percent for Fiscal Year 2014.
UCM is also taking steps to make the scholarship application process as easy as possible for students. It is implementing MoCents, a new online system that makes it easy and convenient for students to apply for all UCM Foundation scholarships. MoCents replaces the cumbersome paper system that required students to download individual forms or visit specific departments. Through MoCents, students create a personalized account and fill out a one-time application that matches them for all scholarships they qualify for based on information they provide, including major/minor, grade point average and financial need. All students --prospective, current, transfer, international, returning adults, undergraduate and graduate--are encouraged to use this new application.
Ambrose once again noted any decision about tuition rates for FY 2015 must be made by the Board of Governors. He will recommend that the board hold tuition flat, if the legislature approves Gov. Nixon’s proposal.