Students on the Missouri State University Springfield campus. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Missouri State University is set to increase tuition and numerous student fees next school year at both its Springfield and West Plains campuses. Tuition at the main Springfield campus will increase by 4.5 percent, according to a proposed schedule of fees included in the latest MSU Board of Governors Executive Committee agenda. The committee will vote and likely approve the proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. 

It’s a decision that is being made after another year of navigating high inflation rates, said Clif Smart, MSU president. 

“You’re trying to maintain affordability while at the same time increasing compensation and holding expenses down,” he said, adding that MSU is trying to do so after a calendar year where the average inflation rate was 6.5 percent.  

“And so everything costs more,” he said. “Utilities cost more. Health insurance costs more. Property insurance costs more.” 

Smart had many more examples to illustrate what he says is a balancing act that’s been going on for a few years. Citing inflation and competitive wages, the board approved an increase to tuition and student fees last year as well. The tuition increase that affected most of MSU’s enrolled students, the $10 per credit hour undergraduate increase, reflected a 3.89 percent increase. This year, the cost of a credit hour is rising by $12, to $279. 

All told, Smart said the increased costs of tuition and fees will amount to about a 4.9-percent increase for students. A student taking a 30-hour classload over the next year would pay about $360 more out of pocket, Smart said. 

“In the big scheme of things, we frankly think we’ve done a good job to do an increase less than inflation and still be able to do a significant compensation increase, which we’re still working on the details about,” he said. 

Smart says MSU leaders will look to top last year’s cost of living raise to employees

Last year, MSU gave a 4 percent cost of living raise to employees and increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour at a time when the annual rate of inflation was at 8.5 percent. The U.S. inflation rate has decreased every month since last year’s tuition and fee increases took effect last July. But it still stood at about 5 percent by the end of March after being as high as 9.06 percent last June.

“Thank goodness, inflation seems to be beginning to taper off,” Smart said. “But still, in this last calendar year, we still had 6.5-percent inflation, and stuff costs more.”

Smart said MSU leaders sought to keep the cost increases below the annual average rate of U.S. inflation. With Gov. Mike Parson signaling MSU will get increased state funding and new MSU leaders Zora Mulligan and John Jasinski working to cut the university’s 2024 budget by $5 million, Smart said they were in a position to.

“We’re still 1.6 percent less than inflation,” Smart said. “And one of the reasons we’re able to be less than inflation is it appears the state is going to increase our appropriation by 7 percent. So that helps us significantly.”

Discussion about raises for staff will be part of talks during an executive budget committee meeting in two weeks, Smart said. He said the committee is looking to top the 4-percent employee wage raise from last year in an effort to make sure faculty and staff don’t fall further behind at a time when inflation has persisted. That, he said, is why the cost increases are slightly higher than last year’s. 

Pending approval on Wednesday, the new fees will take effect on July 1. Here is how the tuition increases will look to students on the Springfield campus:  

  • For in-state undergraduate students, the cost per credit hour will increase by $12, from $267 to $279.
  • For out-of-state undergrads, the cost increases by $25, to $597 per credit hour.
  • For in-state graduate students, the cost per credit hour increases by $15, to $348.
  • For out-of-state graduate students, the cost per credit hour rises by $29, to $694.

The complete rundown of tuition and fee increases is available in the latest MSU Board of Governors Executive Committee agenda.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson