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Nixon proposes six percent increase to educational funding

State colleges and universities could be seeing a freeze in tuition thanks to a new budget proposed Monday by Governor Jay Nixon.

A six percent increase for state funding of public colleges and universities was proposed in exchange for higher education executives asking their governing boards to, in return, freeze the tuition for the 2016-2017 school year. If this is approved, it will be the fourth tuition freeze Nixon has negotiated in exchange for state funding.

“The less debt students take on while they are in school, the more they can spend when they graduate, buying a car, starting a business and pursuing their dreams,” Nixon said.

The funds will be distributed using a performance funding model; schools will be able to earn funding based on meeting certain goals. Meeting goals, such as increasing the graduation and retention rate of undergraduate students, will determine the amount of money each institution will receive.

Missouri Western’s current state appropriation sits at approximately $22 million. If the governor’s increase is approved, Western will see an increase of over $1 million in state appropriations.

Western President Dr. Robert Vartabedian was pleased to hear of the potential increase in state funding.

“Thanks to the governor and the general assembly, our appropriation is back up to where it was at our highest. We took several years of frozen appropriations and cuts to our appropriations, so much that we are working our way back up. If this six percent comes through, then we will be back up to the highest level we have ever been appropriated. In terms of what it might do for salary increases and other enhancements on our campus, that could be very positive for us,” Vartabedian said.

One-sixth of the state appropriations will be designated for the advancement of science and technology related programs.

“The governor has designated that one percent of the six percent increase will go towards S.T.E.M. – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – type of programs. That is the only regulation, in addition to asking our governing boards to freeze tuition,” Vartabedian said.

With the S.T.E.M. programs, Western departments of science and technology would benefit the greatest, by providing more labs and materials for the classroom.

The final decision for tuition changes and state funding will be announced in May of 2015.

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