KANSAS CITY • The University of Missouri Board of Curators on Thursday took its first look at a proposed 6.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for the four-campus system.
Curators took no action on the proposal by system administrators, while stressing the importance of taking some time to consider the hefty increases that would offset some of the funding that Gov. Jay Nixon plans to cut from the state's higher education spending.
No curator spoke against the tuition hike Thursday, though several expressed dismay over the state's funding cuts.
"This is going to be a painful year," said Curator Don Downing, who urged the system to find a way to preserve pay raises for faculty.
Earlier plans called for a smaller, 3 percent, increase to be voted upon at the regularly scheduled meeting, on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus.
But that timetable was scrambled by Nixon's announcement last month that he will trim 12.5 percent from higher education, or $50 million from the UM budget.
"I'm glad we are going to take some time to digest on this," said Curator Warren Erdman.
Still, the board is working on a fairly short timetable, given the need by the universities to set tuition in time for the summer session.
One time-consuming factor is the system's likely need to seek approval, in the form of a waiver, from the commissioner for higher education, to avoid financial penalties. A waiver is required whenever the tuition increase exceeds the rate of inflation, which was 3 percent last year.
That process could take as much as a month to complete, meaning the new tuition rates would need to be established in February or early March, said Nikki Krawitz, the system's vice president of finance.
Under the proposal, tuition hikes would vary by campus. Tuition and fees would increase 7 percent at the University of Missouri-Columbia, 7.7 percent at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, 8.3 percent at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and 3 percent at the UMKC.
Curators also were given a report from system administrators, detailing a host of cuts and efficiency improvements that saved $75.2 million last year. Nixon has urged schools to deal with his cuts by becoming more efficient.