Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon signed House Bill 2003, the budget for higher education for Fiscal Year 2017.
The legislation, which came as a result of the actions of both the State Legislature and the governor, will impact higher education funding throughout the state.
Administrators at State Fair Community College announced late Thursday that as a result of the passage and signing of the bill, the college will not implement a tuition increase for in-district students approved by the SFCC Board of Trustees in March.
SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said base tuition for in-district residents will remain at $100 per credit hour.
“SFCC’s tuition rate is a great value for taxpayers and students,” Anderson stated in a press release issued Thursday.
“We are grateful for the additional budget support from our legislators and Gov. Nixon,” she added “In addition to the 4 percent increase in performance funding for all of higher education, the House and Senate passed an equity increase for the entire community college sector of $4.5 million that also was included in the budget.”
Anderson went on to state in the release that the additional revenue will enable the college to continue its successful student completion initiatives and fill the budget gap caused by an enrollment decrease this year.
As a result of the passage, SFCC will see an increase of more than $570,000 in funds.
“The budget increases in HB2003 to SFCC will be $270,354 of the $4.5 million equity increase and $299,978 from the 4 percent increase in performance funding,” Anderson said Friday afternoon.
Those funds will be used in part to offset a slight decline in enrollment the college has experienced in recent semesters.
“Our current budget (FY16) was based on a 2 percent enrollment decline over last year,” Anderson said. “Our actual enrollment decline is slightly more than 5 percent with our summer enrollment still underway.
“Currently, enrollment for fall 2016 is up over this same time last year,” Anderson added. “It is too early to know if that trend will continue though.”
SFCC is continuing to explore and invest in programs to see its students complete their programs, especially through the use of their student Navigator advisors and the Starfish electronic program, which provides a method of contact between instructors, navigators and students.
“Our most recent fall-to-fall official retention rate went up 4 percent from 59 percent to 63 percent,” Anderson said. “Although we’re constantly striving to improve, this is very positive.
“As a comparison, community colleges nationally have a retention rate of about 52 percent,” Anderson added. “Retention is challenging because students leave for many reasons including getting jobs as the economy improves, transferring to four-year institutions after completing several credits, and a myriad of personal reasons out of our control.”
The budget Nixon signed on Thursday provides an “additional $71.3 million for higher education in Missouri, including scholarships and institutional operating funds,” according to a press release from the governor’s office. “This will bring state support for operations at Missouri public colleges and universities to the highest level on record.
“In September, Nixon was joined by leaders of the state’s public higher education institutions to announce an agreement to freeze tuition for Missouri undergraduates for the 2016-2017 school year,” the release states. “In addition to a tuition freeze for Missouri undergraduates, the FY2017 budget also answers the Governor’s call to increase funding for Missouri’s scholarship programs, including an additional $4 million for Access Missouri, an additional $2.5 million for A+ Scholarships, and $500,000 for Bright Flight.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484