State Budget Cuts Force OTC to Raise Tuition
Tuition for some students at Ozarks Technical Community College next school year will go up. The OTC Board of Trustees unanimously approved the tuition increases Monday.
The cost for general education courses will go up $10 a credit hour while technical courses will see a $2 per credit hour increase.
OTC Chancellor Dr. Hal Higdon said the school has already had its state funding cut by $1.2 million. He says the tuition increases were necessary to make up for an expected $1.4 million cut in state funding in the next school year.
"So, we had no choice. We were able to absorb the [state budget] cuts this year through attrition and through a hiring freeze, but to cover the shortage that will happen next year, we had to raise our in-district tuition by $10 to go from $98 to $108," he said.
Higdon had hinted at a tuition hike in February shortly after Gov. Eric Greitens revealed his proposed budget that significantly reduces appropriations for higher education in Missouri. Higdon told KSMU at the time that colleges and universities had already limited expenditures, and further belt-tightening, as suggested by Greitens, would not make up for all the cuts.
OTC did not raise out-of-district or out-of-state tuition on Monday.
According to Dr. Higdon, state funding makes up 13 percent of the school’s budget.
He said to make up for loss in state revenue, they’ve also eliminated 20 positions, curbed travel and done away with two educational facility leases.
Those leases, $80,000 each, were with the Gillioz and the Center for Workforce Development, both in downtown Springfield, which Higdon said hurts the area’s economy. He’s frustrated that politicians are cutting funding for higher education.
"I keep hearing politicians in our state saying they're fully funding education, and I think it's time that we understand that you can't fully fund education if you don't fully fund higher education. So, our K-12 they're claiming they're fully funding, but they're taking it from Missouri State and OTC to do that, and I think that's penny wise and pound foolish," said Higdon.
He said OTC might experience a slight decline in enrollment next school year, but it will be more because of the area's healthy economy and low unemployment rather than the tuition increases.