The MSU Board of Regents will convene at 9 a.m., Monday, March 28, in a specially-called meeting to set tuition and fees for Fall 2011 and discuss ways for MSU to overcome an estimated $6.4 million shortfall in state funding during the upcoming biennium.
Data published by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows that MSU ranks 31st in state appropriations (that is, sixth from the bottom) per full-time student among 36 universities in Texas. Disparities in funding go back decades and are the result of the legislature’s passing special-item legislation that awards funding to some universities apart from state appropriations distributed equitably to all universities through the formulas. (Special item funding is known in Washington, D.C. as earmarks). Special item funding is renewed by the legislature year after year and provides some state universities with as much as three times the funding per student as that received by MSU. President Jesse Rogers has worked over the years to set limitations upon such funding.
Though MSU is grateful for the funds it receives from the state, Midwestern, as all other state universities, must find ways to make up the difference between the funds it receives from the state and the cost of operating a university. The university has only two means of bridging the shortfall from the state, cutting costs and increasing revenue, such as tuition and fees.
During its meeting, the board will review the administration’s cost-cutting proposals in such areas as hiring, travel, gifted summer programs, and employee dependent tuition coverage. Additional sources of revenue being considered include increases in parking fees and supplemental appropriations from the MSU Foundation, MSU Charitable Trust, and other MSU endowment funds. These foundations and others have continued to stand behind MSU because they believe in the university and its mission.
Even though the legislature has not yet written a final budget for the biennium, Regents must determine tuition and fee rates now so that MSU can begin early registration for the Fall 2011 semester. The board will discuss a tuition and fee increase of at least 4 percent. If approved, this amount would be in line with anticipated increases at other Texas schools and keep MSU’s tuition and fees at or below the state average.
“Our intention is to continue to make MSU the best value in education in the State of Texas,” says Chairman Dr. Carol Gunn. “The measures we will consider have been thought out and studied for months. We will make the best decision for our students.”