Gov. Jay Nixon and the presidents of Missouri's community colleges delivered some good news today: for the second year in a row, in-state students and their families won't see tuition or academic fees rise by a penny. The news of the agreement with the community colleges followed the announcement earlier this week of a similar agreement with the presidents of the state's four-year colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition.
"To turn this economy around, Missourians must be trained, educated and ready to work, and that's why it was vital that we kept tuition flat for Missouri families," Gov. Nixon said. "As tuition skyrockets by double digits in other states, university leaders, faculty members and my administration have worked together to put Missouri students first and protect them from tuition spikes for the second year in a row. By helping keep higher education affordable, we are taking bold steps to prepare the workforce that will move Missouri forward."
Under the agreement with Gov. Nixon, Missouri's community colleges have agreed not to impose a tuition increase on in-state students for the 2010-2011 school year. In addition, the Governor said that Linn State Technical College, which is not part of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA), has also agreed to keep its tuition the same for 2010-2011.
Despite economic challenges that are requiring difficult cuts throughout state government, Gov. Nixon has agreed to maintain higher education funding at approximately 95 percent of the current fiscal year's appropriation. This works out to be a reduction of 5.2 percent, or $8 million for the community colleges and Linn State combined. This agreement is subject to approval by the General Assembly and the institutions' governing boards.
If approved, this will be the second consecutive year Missouri students have benefitted from a tuition-freeze agreement between Gov. Nixon and leaders of the state's public colleges and universities. Under a similar agreement for the 2009-2010 school year, Missouri's four-year and two-year public colleges and universities froze tuition in exchange for stable funding in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. Prior to last year's freeze, tuition at Missouri's public four-year colleges and universities increased by an average of 7.5 percent a year over the past decade.
This innovative partnership among higher education leaders, faculty members and Gov. Nixon's administration is helping prevent the dire situations emerging in many other states, where tuition has jumped by an average of 6.5 percent nationally in the past year. On Thursday (Nov. 19), the University of California's Board of Regents approved a 32 percent increase in undergraduate tuition.
"Missouri's community colleges play a vital role in ensuring our state continues to produce a workforce trained for high-demand jobs," said Dr. Marcia Pfeiffer, president of St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley and chair of the Presidents and Chancellors Council of the MCCA. "This agreement will help keep higher education affordable for Missouri students and their families. It also means our state's community colleges can count on a stable source of funding during these trying economic times. This agreement will enable us to continue our mission of equipping students with the skills they need to compete in today's job market."
Under the agreement with Gov. Nixon, the institutions may put a tuition or fee increase on their books for next year, but will not charge in-state students for that increase. This agreement will take effect upon approval of the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation, as long as the approved appropriation at least matches the Governor's recommended budget.
"The leaders of Missouri's public colleges and universities have come together to make these agreements possible," Gov. Nixon said. "We've all had to make tough choices about ways we can become more efficient and maximize our limited resources. By working together, we have been able to preserve our shared priority of making higher education as affordable as possible for Missourians. That's something that should make us all proud."