JEFFERSON CITY - Currently, it is illegal for the University of Missouri to charge tuition -- although the institution has found other ways to get payment from students who enroll.
Two Missouri lawmakers are trying to get that changed -- the name being used, not the charge.
"Ever since the beginning of time almost, there has been a law on the books that the University of Missouri can't charge tuition," said Sen. Sidney Johnson, D-Agency, who is sponsoring one of the bills.
Johnson refers to the Missouri statutes that states, "All youths, resident of the state of Missouri, over age of 16 years, shall be admitted to all the privileges and advantages of the various classes of all the departments of the University of the State of Missouri without payment of tuition..."
Paul Toler, director of cashier and student loans for MU, said the University of Missouri System doesn't charge tuition now, rather students pay educational fees. Undergraduate, in-state students pay $132.60 per hour, and out-of-state students pay $396.40.
"If you can't charge fees, then the state has a significant problem of about $300 million," said Jim Snyder, lobbyist for the university system.
Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, also has proposed an identical bill that would let UM charge tuition.
"This bill is a restatement of current policy," he said. "It's not like students pay nothing now."
Farnen mentioned his bill would eliminate 'frivolous' lawsuits like the one last year in St. Louis County. Someone sued the UM system claiming he shouldn't have to pay to attend one of the four schools.
"To me, this is an update of the language to remove any doubt that the University does have the aility to charge tuition," Farnen said.
Johnson and Farnen's bills would still make it legal to charge fees for library, hospital, incidental expenses or late registration.
Although these bills would let the UM system collect tuition, applicants would still be required to pass academic requirements to become accepted.