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MU in support of budget “flexibility” after bill filed to change tuition cap

University of Missouri leaders said they are in support of budget flexibility after a new bill was introduced that would lift the state cap on tuition.

Sen. Caleb Rowden (R- District 19) filed the bill this week. He said the bill would give universities the flexibility to raise tuition in years when the state cuts funding for higher education.

“We are definitely in favor of obtaining some type of flexibility to our budget,” MU spokesperson Christian Basi said when asked if the university is in support of the legislation.

Current state law limits the amount of tuition increases to the consumer price index. Basi said that’s been extremely low over the past several years, and it’s not enough to keep up with cuts to state funding.

Last year, the state cut funding for higher education by 9 percent. Rowden said he expects additional cuts to be announced next week.

“We’re asking higher education institutions to think big and to think long term and we need to give them the tools to do that,” Rowden told ABC 17 News.

“This bill would allow us to have a little more flexibility in our budget when the state is also facing a difficult fiscal year,” Basi said.

Last year, state cuts and a drop in enrollment forced leaders at MU to make some tough decisions, including hundreds of job cuts.

“That was a very difficult time, and we’re hoping that we can continue to be as flexible as we can moving forward,” Basi said.

University officials said they are still extremely committed to affordability. Since June, MU has announced six affordability initiatives.

“We are, again, adamant that we will keep tuition as low as possible,” Basi said.

In an email, Rep. Chuck Basye (R-District 047) said he would “likely support this effort if the tuition hike wasn’t drastic.”

“They’re smart enough to know that if they would jack up tuition by 20 percent in one year or something, yeah, that would have a devastating impact on enrollment, which is why they would never do that,” Rowden said.

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