Tuition raise benefits students
By Lauren Epps
October 3, 2006
In the past three years, Western has not increased the rate of tuition, much to everyoneâ€™s joy. Happiness cannot last forever.
Last semester Western raised tuition $9 per credit hour from $146 to $155.
No one likes to see money running out of his or her pocket, however for the university to survive, capital has to come from somewhere.
In 2002 Western received 54 percent of its total budget from the state. This year the state is only funding 46 percent of Westernâ€™s budget.
â€œAs the state funds less, the student have to pick up the slack in fees,â€ said Ron Olinger, financial administrator for Western.
Student Governor Harold Calloway is in favor of the tuition increase.
â€œI thought it was a minimal level of increase,â€ Calloway said. â€œWith state funding decreasing, a raise in tuition was inevitable.â€
Calloway also said that with the boost in tuition Western could better cater to the needs and wants of the student body.
Despite a continued decrease in state funding, tuition did not change for three consecutive years.
Olinger explained how Western kept tuition steady those three years without extra help from the state.
â€œWe continue to be frugal with capitol,â€ Olinger said. â€œTwo of the last four years we have had to restrict spending to try to save money.â€
In short, Western has been in a financial diet and hasnâ€™t just cut carbs, but made restrictions across the board.
There were open employment positions that were left open to keep spending to a minimum along with other plans to cut back on university spending.
â€œWe cut back on operating expenses to keep from harming employees,â€ Olinger said.
Many employees actually got a raise during the years where tuition wasnâ€™t changed. Olinger said that a market study was conducted to ensure that employees were being paid accordingly.
Howard McCauley, director of admissions stated that admissions has not been effected by the tuition hike and everyone knows the reality of Westernâ€™s finances.
McCauley also said that he was not opposed to the increase in tuition.
â€œWe have been very generous, we have to increase prices,â€ McCauley said. â€œThe administration has been very supportive.â€
Some returning students may have groaned and gnashed their teeth after reading and hearing about the tuition boost, but for most students, the tuition money is going back to them in the form of financial aid.
According to documents compiled by Western, financial aid will have increased institutional scholarships by over a million dollars since fall 2003. This is a 26.8 percent increase.
Olinger stated that in 2002 financial aid at Western was around $3.2 million. Now it is around $4.8 million.
â€œEvery year we are spending more,â€ said Lisa Siudym, director of financial aid. â€œThe financial aid office services 86 percent of the student body from athletics to employment, grants and loans.â€
A new grant, Smart Grant, has come to Western through the federal grants for students coming out of high school or college sophomores. This new grant will increase the amount that students can borrow.
The state may be granting students more options for borrowing money, but the state funding for higher education in Missouri is down. This puts a restriction on Westernâ€™s incoming funds and effects the budget.
In 1980, 17 percent of the stateâ€™s budget went to higher education. Now higher education receives only 12 percent. Between 2000 and 2005 national higher education increased an average of two percent annually while Missouri decreased one percent. This year, Missouriâ€™s higher education funding was up two percent. Higher education was up 6.5 percent.
With the decline of state funding and the cost of everything going up, a tuition raise for Missouri Western seemed to be the best solution to keep everyone happy. In comparison to other schools in the region, Westernâ€™s tuition is still one of the most inexpensive.
According to reports gathered by Western, from fall of 2003 to fall of 2006 Western has experienced a 9.5 percent increase, the second lowest total tuition and fees increase in the state. Missouri Southern was at the bottom with a three percent increase. Truman State was at the top with a staggering 30.8 percent increase in tuition and fees.
Administers said that keeping tuition low has not been easy for those who make the financial decisions for Western.
â€œScanlon is fiscally strong,â€ Olinger said. â€œHe has led us through tough times.â€