Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Leading the Way on Higher Education Quality, Affordability

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Leading the Way on Higher Education Quality, Affordability

Article excerpt

At a time when a highly educated workforce is more important than ever to America's economic competitiveness and prosperity, Missouri continues to bolster its position as a national leader in higher education quality and affordability.

Over the past seven years, Missouri has led the nation in holding down tuition increases at public universities. In fact, the average state saw tuition increases three times higher than Missouri's over that same time period. The budget I have proposed includes an additional $55.7 million to enable our colleges and universities to once again freeze tuition for Missouri undergraduates. With this 6 percent increase, institutional funding for Missouri public higher education institutions will reach $985 million, an all-time high.

We have also supported Missouri's scholarship programs, including A+, Access Missouri and Bright Flight. By doubling the number of A+ schools, we expanded the A+ program to nearly every high school in the state. As a result, the number of students getting a tuition- free education at Missouri's community colleges and technical schools has soared by 44 percent. In addition to ensuring we can continue to meet this growing demand for A+ scholarships, my budget also increases funding for Access Missouri reducing the cost of college for tens of thousands of low-income students.

While keeping a lid on costs, we also demanded quality. Working with college and university leadership, we put in place a new funding model for higher education that's based on performance, and eliminated 118 unproductive degree programs. This performance-based approach is already paying dividends, challenging our higher education institutions to deliver a better value for students and taxpayers.

To ensure students have the skills today's businesses need, we have invested more than $50 million to prepare thousands more Missourians for good jobs in fast-growing fields like health care, advanced manufacturing and information technology. For example, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and colleges and universities around the state, our Caring for Missourians initiative trained 1,500 Missourians for high-paying jobs as physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists and optometrists. …

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