KANSAS CITY -- Large state budget cuts on the horizon mean extending the tuition freeze for Missouri's university students would "not make economic sense," University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee said Thursday.
"Going a third year without any tuition increase with our incredible enrollment growth would start to not make economic sense for the state, for the university and for the public," he said. "It would be sending a wrong message to students and parents at this time."
Forsee delivered Thursday's opening address at the Governor's Economic Development Conference in Kansas City. He highlighted the "conundrum" the state's schools face between improving graduation rates and making higher education more accessible and affordable.
"On the one hand we're saying we need more grads in the pipeline," Forsee said. "At the same time nationally and within the state, student financial aid is under pressure."
But Forsee said definitively that students need not expect an exaggerated increase in tuition and academic fees if MU's budget is cut and the tuition freeze lifted.
"That's not going to happen," he said.
The UM System has little power to dictate tuition costs. Missouri law stipulates that tuition for state schools should rise only at or below the rate of inflation. A waiver for a larger increase can only be granted by the Department of Education with input from the UM System Board of Curators.
Forsee emphasized he will not be able to make any final decisions about cuts until January, when the state publishes its draft budget for the coming year.
"Until we understand the full magnitude of the state's situation, we can't say for certain what we're going to do," he said.