Colleges consider options in light of possible cuts

Friday, January 2, 2009

In December, colleges and universities across Missouri were required to submit budget reduction scenarios to the Missouri Department of Higher Education. This information will be evaluated by the Missouri General Assembly when legislators begin their next session in January of 2009.

According to information submitted by Dr. Alan Marble, Crowder College president, local students could see a 5.9 percent tuition increase if legislators slash state funding by 15 percent or more. This would increase in-district tuition rates from $68 to $72 and in-state tuition rates from $95 to $100 per credit hour.

Although information submitted by Dr. Marble could take effect if funding for higher education is cut, he warns that the report only represents one possible solution.

"It is important to note that we have not made any decisions at all, and we will not make any determinations until we know the exact condition of the state budget," said Dr. Marble. "Also, it is important to note that all tuition rates are set by our board of trustees after long and thoughtful consideration."

The numbers used in the report submitted to the Missouri Department of Higher Education have not been approved or even discussed by the Crowder College Board, said Dr. Marble.

"(These numbers) were only given as part of a possible scenario for dealing with the proposed state budget cuts," said Dr. Marble. "The same is true for any staff reductions. We were simply responding to the Department of Higher Education's demand for information."

According to the information reported by Dr. Marble, another possible solution for budget cuts would be the elimination of several faculty or staff positions.

"Frankly, it is premature to make judgments about how to respond to a state budget that doesn't yet exist, and we would not have submitted any possible actions if not for the fact that we were required to respond to the request," said Dr. Marble.

"The information we submitted was used by the Department of Higher Education to make the case that higher education should not be cut if the state budget turns out to be as tight as predicted," Marble added.

According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education website, state funding cuts could also affect Access Missouri, Bright Flight and other grant and scholarship programs. Past budget shortfalls have been addressed by decisions not to increase state financial aid instead of reducing prior appropriation levels.

In January of 2009, Governor-elect Jay Nixon will make budget recommendations to the Missouri General Assembly. The 2009-10 budget will be finalized by May of 2009.

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