Governor Lauds UCM's Education Affordability Measures Benefiting Students
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 17, 2014) – The same day the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors voted to retain the current rate of student tuition and general fees for Fiscal Year 2015, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon paid a personal visit to UCM to thank the university for helping to keep higher education affordable for students and their families.
Nixon spoke to the board on Feb. 14 at the close of a meeting which included action to maintain student academic fees at the FY14 level, if the legislature approves the governor’s budget recommendations. In his State of the State Address in late January, the governor asked Missouri’s colleges and universities to consider maintaining current tuition rates while he proposed increases in state funding for higher education. Although the General Assembly must still consider the state budget for FY15, the governor’s budget proposal for higher education and life-long learning in Missouri would result in additional appropriations for UCM consisting of $2.2 million in Performance Funding, $1.6 million for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) funding, $600,000 for Caring for Missourians, and a portion of $1 million for statewide Innovation Campus initiatives.
Gov. Jay Nixon commends UCM Board of Governors for efforts to lower the cost of a college education.
If the legislature upholds the governor’s recommendations, UCM will maintain for FY15 the current per-credit-hour rate of $213.15 for resident undergraduate students, $426.30 for non-resident undergraduates, $276.25 for resident graduates, and $552.50 for non-resident graduate students. Online and UCM Summit Center, Lee’s Summit, student instructional fees per credit hour will remain at $265.95 for undergraduates and $321.50 for graduate students. All other Extended Campus tuition rates will also remain at the FY14 rate. Student general fees will remain at $29 per credit hour per semester for students enrolled in less than nine credit hours, and a flat rate of $435 per semester will be incurred by students enrolled in nine or more credit hours.
Prior to the board’s decision, UCM’s efforts to provide affordable tuition resulted in average increases in tuition of 1.8 percent over the past five years. These increases have consistently been below the Consumer Price Index.
In his remarks to the board, Nixon called UCM a “national model for academic excellence and innovation.” He commended the university and its board for taking measures to help maintain the quality and affordability of a college degree.
“Today the high calling those in this room have answered has never been more important,” he said. The governor added that competition for jobs of the future is a critical concern for the state, and education is essential to economic strength.
“When it comes to higher education we have had twin priorities. College education puts a strain on family budgets, so we want to make college education as affordable and accessible as possible, while also doing our part to try to make sure we lessen the amount of debt students graduate with,” Nixon said.
He said Missouri is a national leader in education innovation and affordability. In fact, during the last five years, while other states experienced double digit tuition increases and the amount of college loan debt in America surpassed the amount of credit card debt, Missouri universities have led the nation in holding down tuition increases.
“Today we mark another significant milestone in our effort to put an affordable college degree within reach for every Missouri family,” Nixon told the board, proceeding to talk about his proposed budget for Missouri.
“The budget I introduced was a basic increase of $36.7 million for higher education in the state, and I’ve called on public universities to once again freeze tuition for Missouri’s undergraduates so those students won’t pay more for their education in the 2014-2015 school year,” Nixon remarked. “Through initiatives such as your Learning to a Greater Degree Contract (for student completion), UCM continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to student success and college affordability. Today I am very pleased that this institution has answered my call and voted to hold tuition flat for undergraduates here at UCM.”
He added, “Not having a single penny increase in tuition means a lot to our competitive difference. This tuition freeze will strengthen Missouri as a leader in college affordability, but more importantly it will strengthen the financial position of all students and families across our great state.”
Prior to the meeting, UCM President Charles Ambrose said, “Gov. Nixon’s visit to UCM today is special because it illustrates his personal commitment to education in Missouri, which is our state’s strongest asset for building a viable economy. It’s also important because he recognizes Missouri can’t build a better economic future, if students and their families continue to fall deeper and deeper into debt while education goals are pursued.”
Ambrose praised the governor for his willingness to make a significant investment in higher education to help hold the line on tuition next year. Doing so will help UCM put a college degree within reach of many more students, which he said is the state’s best public policy.
While students’ college debt has topped $1 trillion nationwide, UCM continues to take a strong stance onreducing the financial burden its students and their families face during a tough economy. Measures such as holding tuition rates below the Consumer Price Index, enhancing scholarship funding, providing student employment, innovative programs/partnerships to reduce debt, and financial aid packages that include an increase in federal Pell Grant funding for Fiscal Year 2014 are helping to reduce the overall cost of an education at UCM.