NEOSHO, Mo. — Sticking with a pattern of incremental annual increases, students at Crowder College may see an increase to tuition fees next semester.

The college's board of trustees will meet Monday to discuss an increase from $95 to $97 for in-district students, from $154 to $160 for out-of-district students and $211 to $220 for international students. Institutional support fees would also increase from $28 to $30, if approved by the board.

President Glenn Coltharp said the setting of fees is the first part of determining next fiscal year's budget.

"We have already started the budget development process," Coltharp said. "The first part of determining that budget is setting what the tuition will be."

Like other colleges and universities across the state, Crowder could see reductions in state funding. In the State of the State address, Gov. Mike Parson asked the Legislature to restore funding for the state's four-year colleges to pre-pandemic levels. But according to a consensus estimate, the state is projecting a general revenue shortfall of $400 million.

Still, Coltharp said the $2 increase should be sufficient. The college passes small increases every year in order to avoid big increases all at once. Rates went up from $3 to $9 in 2020 and from $2 to $8 in 2019.

"We can't raise the amount to offset a cut from somewhere else. We won't do that to our students to make up for something we lose," Coltharp said. "If a cut comes through, we'll deal with it."

Coltharp said that the fees keep Crowder on track to be one of the least expensive two-year colleges in the state. The board will consider the over the next two meetings, with final approval expected during the board's March 22 meeting.

Monday's meeting will be held at 10 a.m. via web conference. Agenda items include a proposal for room and board rates and a revision to a policy about tuition waivers for employees and their family members.

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Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.