College Affordability Becoming a Costly Decision
MDN Menu
MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

College Affordability Becoming a Costly Decision

Date: October 20, 2008
By: Rebecca Layne
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: Higher education officials say the price of a college education in Missouri is leaving many high school seniors hunting for jobs instead of the perfect campus, and those who are lucky enough to afford tuition are saddled with debt after graduation. With Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority's financial woes increasing from the credit market crisis, finding a way to make colleges more affordable is one of the major issues facing Missouri's gubernatorial candidates. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City.

RunTime:2:53
OutCue: SOC

When Governor Matt Blunt pushed for the sale of MOHELA assets in 2006 to pay for new construction for Missouri's public universities, some representatives, like Democrat Wes Shoemyer, were enraged:

 

Actuality:  BECKY.WAV
Run Time: 00:35
Description: You know I would call this appropriation or this process 'MOSTELA.' We are dramatically changing the course of the future of the state of Missouri by appropriating this money where it does not need to be and taking away opportunigy from young people. It looks to me like we may have some kind of MOSTELA-gate going on here. We are stealing the opportunity from the very people that we stand on this floor, young people. We all the time say, 'It's for the kids.' That's what this program was for and for those kids' parents who struggle every day to find a way to get them access to higher education.


Two years after Shoemyer's outburst, MOHELA's assets are declining and tuition is increasing.

Republican candidate Kenny Hulshof proposes an increase in needs-based scholarships and the creation of a public-private partnership that would improve biotechnology, math and chemistry degree programs.

Starting in 2011, Hulshof's funding formula would increase the state's investment in higher education to the rate of inflation plus two percent, but he has no exact price tag as of now.

Actuality:  HULSHOF6.WAV
Run Time: 00:25
Description: If you look back over the last nine years, if my funding formula had been in effect, seven out of nine years higher education across the state would have received additional funding. What we hear from college presidents is that it seems that college education is the last thing funded. So we want to provide some certainty for funding for the four-year institutions but also for community colleges and for technical schools.


 

Unlike Hulshof, Nixon was an early and strong opponent of the MOHELA sale.

He proposes his Missouri Promise Plan which would give all high-school seniors the chance to earn a degree at a state university after completing their two-year degree at a community college or technical school.

The student would be required to earn a 3.0 GPA and do community service to benefit from the plan.

 

Actuality:  NIXON7.WAV
Run Time: 00:31
Description: It cost $61 million under the formula and that's what all the fiscal notes show. I think it's the right investment. I think that once again it's a priority. This administration is leaving saying they've got hundreds of millions of dollars laying around in the state coffers, and we've laid out a plan to get down these federal match dollars on healthcare and to invest the $61 million on this targeted program for middle-class families to give them the opportunity for four years for a debt-free college education. I think it's a sound investment to the future that will pay off significantly for the state.

Although disparate, Nixon and Hulshof's programs for higher education are both geared toward making higher education a less costly decision for families and their pocketbooks. Neither, however, have proposed new taxes out of the revenue sources to boost funding for higher education. Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne...KSMU.


Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.