Missouri Gov Nixon Signs Ed Spending Bill With Tuition Freeze

(Photo: AP)

(Photo: AP)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has approved a spending bill for public colleges and universities without changing anything in the measure. The bill does not include a tuition increase for the next academic year.

The new bill was signed by the governor at Missouri State University in Springfield. It was the first bill to be acted upon of the 13 bills approved by lawmakers last week. And it provides $37.2 million to be used for a 4% hike in state support for institutions of higher education, writes Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The bill also authorized $4 million to create more need-based Access Missouri scholarships and $2.5 million more for additional dollars to be used for the A+ Scholarship program that pays tuition at community colleges. Also, $500,000 in funding was passed for Bright Flight scholarships to award students who remain in the state for their education.

"Making higher education better and more affordable was one of the five principal goals I laid out when I first took office in 2009, and today we continue to deliver on that commitment with significant investments in our higher education campuses and another tuition freeze for Missouri undergraduates," Nixon said in a news release announcing his action.

Since 2009, Missouri public higher education tuition has increased 9%, according to the release. The national average increase was 33.5%.

On the Columbia campus, a 14-hour course load will cost students $10,586 for if they live in the state and $25,198 for nonresidents. Additionally, there is a $600 fee per semester for recreation, health, student activities, and information technology. These costs will remain the same as last year's charges.

The University of Missouri System will receive $430.5 million in base funding, which includes a $3.8 million reduction to UM System administration. The university will be given an increase of roughly $17 million from the funds set apart for enhanced aid to universities and colleges.

From the increase, the Columbia campus will receive $6 million to $7 million, but plans to cut $20 million from campus spending will not be altered. A hiring freeze due to impending costs and declining tuition revenue based on enrollment drops will also not be changed.

Nixon stated that the increases included in House Bill 2003 will bring state support for Missouri public colleges and universities to a record high, writes Alisa Nelson of Learfield Communications.

Gov. Nixon continued by stating:

"Today, I am very proud to mark another milestone for higher education in Missouri and our shared commitment to putting a quality, affordable college degree within reach for more Missouri families."

The release notes that Gov. Nixon has made higher education a priority of his administration. A Higher Education Summit was convened by the governor in 2010 where he requested that higher education leaders adopt a plan focused on four major areas.

The focuses include affordability and attainment, quality and effectiveness, collaboration, and performance funding. Nixon announced that meaningful progress has been made in all these areas over the last five years.

The governor worked with the General Assembly last year to push a $200 million Building Affordability measure to help higher ed institutions keep college costs down. Nixon also backed career preparation programs such as Missouri STEM Wins (MoSTEMWINS), Caring for Missourians, and Training for Tomorrow.

And Nixon has offered 50/50 funding projects to provide new and renovated facilities, infrastructure, and laboratories at colleges and universities statewide.

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