Regents Approve Southeast Tuition Guarantee Program

Photo of Academic Hall

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Sept. 1, 2006 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved a Southeast Tuition Guarantee Program for Missouri students who enroll for the fall 2007 semester.

Under the program, the University guarantees that incidental fees for all Missouri resident undergraduate students enrolled in fall 2007 will not rise more than $400 per year for a typical academic year load of 30 credit hours through spring 2011.

“In fact, we will strive toward an annual increase that is less than $400,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, “and that was the case in six of the last eight years.”

Dobbins noted that fee increases at Southeast did exceed $400 in two of the last eight years, due primarily to unprecedented reductions in state appropriations. However, under the tuition guarantee program, increases above $400 per year would not take place, he said.

The plan is designed to address concerns by students and parents that it is difficult to budget for higher education costs due to the possibility of extreme fluctuations in tuition.

With the new plan, when a student enrolls at Southeast, it will now be possible to calculate the maximum cost of incidental fees (tuition) that will be required for a student to pay for courses over the next four years.

“This will help families plan for students’ education expenses without the threat of unanticipated costs,” Dobbins said.

Dobbins said the commitment is simple and straightforward. There is nothing to sign and the promise is extended to all Missouri undergraduates, freshmen through seniors, who enroll at Southeast beginning in fall 2007 and continuing through spring 2011.

While Southeast has historically held fee increases to relatively low levels, all Missouri public universities raised tuition from 2002 to 2004 by amounts that were larger than usual to compensate in part for reductions in state appropriations for higher education. Because of these increases, the cost of education at Southeast was higher than students and their families had planned when students first enrolled, Dobbins said.

“Southeast is very affordable when compared nationally and within Missouri,” Dobbins said.

According to The College Board publication “Trends in College Pricing” the annual cost of attending a public four-year university in the United States in 2005-2006, including tuition, required fees and an average room and meal plan, was $12,127. The national average for private institutions was $29,026 and the figure was $12,816 for public four-year universities in the Midwest. Institutional data show that the annual total cost figure was $13,669 for the University of Missouri system and $10,593 for Southeast.

Chart title: Affordability of Southeast Missouri State University

Although textbook costs are not included in these figures, officials say Southeast’s textbook rental plan typically saves students $600 a year or more compared to the cost of buying books at most institutions.

“Our commitment is to continue keeping Southeast Missouri State University affordable without sacrificing quality,” Dobbins said.

The Southeast Tuition Guarantee Plan is not a tuition stabilization plan whereby students pay an increased tuition rate for a fixed period of time – normally four years, he said. Those plans historically require an enormous premium (about 20 percent more than the current tuition rate) with the understanding that the rate will be valid for four years.  If the premium is not sufficient  to satisfy revenue needs, the next incoming freshmen would have a significant increase to bear the additional costs, he said. 

Dobbins said such stabilization plans can lead to future students being unfairly charged a disproportionate percent of a tuition increase.  Additionally, the significant surcharge may preclude many students with high financial need to be left out of the plan since they may not be able to afford the additional premium.

In comparison, the Southeast Tuition Guarantee Plan is simple, straightforward and applies to all students without substantial surcharges.  Each year the 28-member Budget Review Committee will review all revenues, expenses and proposed mission enhancements to balance the next year’s budget and recommend an increase in tuition.  The Southeast program guarantees that the tuition increase will not exceed $400 per year through Spring 2011.  Hopefully, the increase will be less than $400 since, historically, even with unprecedented state appropriation reductions in 2002-2004, the average tuition increase over the past eight years was approximately $270 per year.

“This plan allows students – both those who are in college along with high school students who are planning to attend college in the next four years — to plan financially for their educational future,” Dobbins said.