The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 21, 2014

MSSU board: No in-state tuition increase next year

Tuition at Missouri Southern State University will remain flat next year for undergraduate students, the Board of Governors decided Friday.

The board voted to keep tuition for in-state students and those who attend the university through the Lion Pride tuition program at its current rate of $173.20 per credit hour for the 2014-15 academic year. In recommending the tuition freeze, administrators said they want to keep debt low for current students and draw additional students to Missouri Southern.

“We thought, ‘Let’s give the students a break,’ so to speak,” said Rob Yust, vice president for business affairs. “Keep in mind, our ultimate goal here is to entice students to come to our campus. We’re trying to sell our product, and this is a small discounting method to do that.”

Board member Mitch McCumber said during a morning meeting of the budget/audit committee, which he chairs, that he supports the tuition freeze.

“I can see that point, especially when you look at our recovering economy, and when you look at us at Southern, we need to increase enrollment,” he said.

Senior Brittany Lampe, a secondary education and biology major from Carthage, said she appreciates not having to pay more in tuition next year.

“It’s great to see, definitely, that tuition is not going up,” said Lampe, who plans to graduate in December. “We still get the same quality education and don’t have to pay the extra costs.”

The tuition freeze falls in line with a proposal from Gov. Jay Nixon, who previously requested an increase in state funding for Missouri’s public four-year institutions for 2014-15 and called on those colleges and universities to hold tuition flat for undergraduates. The governing boards of several universities, including the four-campus University of Missouri System and the University of Central Missouri, have already pledged to keep tuition flat next year.

The board did vote to increase out-of-state tuition to $353 per credit hour, from a current rate of $346.40 per credit hour, and approved an increase to the student technology fee, which had previously been called the equipment use fee and had not been increased since 2002. As of next year, full-time students will pay $60 per semester for the fee, up from $40 per semester; part-time students will pay $30 per semester, up from $20 per semester.

In other business Friday, the board was told during its budget/audit committee meeting that several of its capital projects are running over their approved budgets, although administrators said they are working to bring those costs down.

The projects include a new 200-bed residence hall that was approved for $14 million, to be paid through a bond issue; a storm shelter that was approved for roughly $2 million, to be paid from a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the board’s cash reserves; and an $8 million end zone building for the football stadium, which is to be funded through donations and external sources.

“All these projects, since the time we proposed them to you, the price has escalated enormously,” Yust told the board.

Bob Harrington, director of physical plant, said the residence hall project is currently $300,000 to $500,000 over its budget, while the end zone structure is about $1.2 million over. Both projects’ costs have been inflated because of site work issues, he said.

Yust said the storm shelter is within its budget, but the project no longer includes a glass vestibule, coffee shop or interior walls, all of which were part of the original proposal. He said those pieces were removed from the project to keep it within its budget.

“It will function as it’s supposed to — as a storm shelter,” he said.

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