Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 13, 2006

Education committees meet to hear about Higher Education Compact

Legislators from the Senate Education Committee, House Higher Education Committee, and House Appropriations-Education Committee all gathered on Tuesday, Jan. 10, for an update on Missouri’s participation in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, or MHEC. Missouri is among 11 states that make up the organization, and UM-St. Louis Chancellor Tom George is one of the five commissioners serving from Missouri. The state appropriates about $90,000 per year to participate in the program.

MHEC’s primary function is to encourage interstate cooperation and resource sharing to provide cost savings, student access and policy research for member states. Larry Isaak, who serves as president of the organization, gave an overview to the legislative leaders. He reported that Missouri has achieved a net savings of $4.8 million in the past fiscal year as a result of MHEC efforts that include hardware and software program purchasing savings, property insurance savings, and support for the Midwest Student Exchange Program.

Isaak reviewed recent policy and said one trend of note for Missouri is that we have relatively low participation rate compared to other member states. He urged lawmakers to find ways to get more students to participate. Rep. Scott Rupp (R-St. Charles) asked what steps the state might consider to increase participation. Isaak said most of our loss comes in the transition from high school graduate to college enrollment, and the state should ensure that it is providing a seamless entry into post-secondary education. High school guidance counseling is critical, Isaak said, and the state should also do everything possible to increase financial aid resources.

Rupp noted that Missouri will soon see a dramatic increase in retiring baby boomers at the same time that our high school graduating classes will be smaller. Isaak said those are all the more reasons why the state should make sure that the transition from high school to college is easy, that we have good transfer and articulation agreements among institutions, and that we provide financial aid to those students for whom funding is a barrier.

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