Higher education cuts may continue in Missouri

Jan 2, 2012

Higher education leaders in Missouri are expecting a dismal year when it comes to state funding.

Higher education leaders are still waiting to hear what state funding levels will be this year – but the state Department of Higher Education’s Deputy Commissioner Paul Wagner says a double-digit cut in funding is expected. He says the steadiness of the decline in state funding for higher education has reached “historic” proportions, with no relief in sight.

"All across the state we’ve already seen long-standing hiring freezes. And we’ve seen, time there’s a vacancy, especially among the faculty, it’s either held open or filled with adjuncts instead of full-time professors. We’ve seen institutions’ financial-aid budgets severely stressed. We’ve seen all kinds of administrative reductions"

Wagner says Missouri has been slower than most states to increase tuition – but that a tuition rise is likely as the impact of budget cuts is felt this year. He says that impact also will likely hit financial-aid and scholarship programs.

Rusty Monhollon is the state Department of Higher Education’s assistant commissioner for academic affairs. He says the Department is looking at ways to increase academic support to students so that fewer costs are incurred at the classroom level.

"One of the biggest issues I think is the increasing cost of education, but part of that cost can be seen in repeating courses, or courses that won’t transfer," he said. "There are a number of ways in which costs can add up."

More information on state funding for higher education is expected to come from the Governor’s state of the state address in January.