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Nixon, Community Colleges Announce Tuition Hikes

Governor Jay Nixon is praising community colleges for capping tuition increases at five dollars per credit hour. KSMU’s Brandon Goodwin reports.

A crowd gathers in the commons area at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield. They’re here to see Governor Jay Nixon talk about statewide budget cuts for community colleges.

In his State of the State address last week, Nixon proposed cutting state funding to Missouri community colleges by seven percent. While in Springfield he talked about how this will lead to a slight increase in tuition.

“Our community college presidents, working together, are all recommending to their boards that tuition be increased by no more than five dollars per credit hour in all of our community colleges across the State of Missouri this year. It’s nice to get a tuition increase you can put on one hand, isn’t it,” he said.

Community college leaders say they were pleasantly surprised about the budget cuts because they were expecting the cuts to be much worse, somewhere in the ten to twenty percent range. They say smaller cuts means smaller hikes in tuition.

Hal Higdon is the president of O.T.C and chairman of The Missouri Community College Association.

“What the governor has done is, he said, you were planning on a ten, fifteen, or twenty percent cut. We think we can do a seven percent cut. Prepared to where we thought we were a year ago, it’s much, much better and compared to our sister states, it’s even better. So, a seven percent decrease for us is $750,000. If we raise our tuition cost by five dollars and take into account our other costs, we'll come out about even,” he said.

Bill Castleberry is studying culinary arts full time at O.T.C. He watched Nixon’s address from a table near the back of the room. A five dollar per credit hike will add an extra sixty to eighty dollars to his school bill each semester.

“It’s good to know our tuition is not going to be raised too much. A little bit is going to have to happen, but I’m grateful,” he said.

The new budget goes into effect July first.

For KSMU News, I’m Brandon Goodwin.