University of Missouri System takes part in national effort to provide accessible, affordable, quality higher education

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Christian Basi

October 05, 2012

The four campuses of the University of Missouri System are participating in a national effort sponsored by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to provide accessible, affordable and quality higher education for all students.

The statement, “A Commitment to the Future,” affirms the university’s commitment to achieving “best in the world” degree status for the United States by doing its part to improve degree attainment through enhanced educational quality; upholding the principles of student access, success and diversity; reducing the average time to degree completion; constraining student expenses where possible; and supporting economic growth, among other things. In all, nearly 500 public universities and colleges have signed the APLU-AASCU statement.

“As the state’s largest provider of public higher education in Missouri, we witness every day the life-changing effect a college education has on a person, their family and even the community in which they live and work,” said UM System President Tim Wolfe. “Our continued goal is to extend the benefits of education to any and all Missourians who dream of earning a college degree.”

Some of those initiatives include:

  • Significantly     increasing enrollment on our four campuses. In the last 15 years,    enrollment has increased 40 percent from 53,547 in 1997 to our current     enrollment of about 75,000.
  • Increasing     the number of graduates by 12 percent in the last five years.
  • Keeping     tuition increases modest so that cost is not a barrier to attainment. As a     result, the university has increased tuition only an average of 2.86     percent annually during the last five years, compared to 6.1 percent in     surrounding states.
  • Investing     more in financial aid for students. During the last decade, the University     of Missouri System has increased institutional financial aid by about 80     percent and awarded $102 million in institutional grant aid last year     alone. In March, the system leveraged more than $1 million from lottery     proceeds by raising an additional $1.1 million to create 56 new need-based     scholarships for undergraduates.
  • Reducing     administrative expenses, which can affect the ultimate cost of education.    The UM System’s costs for general administrative services, executive     management, legal and fiscal operations, development and physical plant     operations were 21 percent less than the national average of public     doctoral universities.
  • Improving     six-year graduation rates, which have increased 3 percent for freshmen     during the last five years and 5 percent for transfer students.
  • Helping     ensure a diverse—and successful—student body through its commitment to the     national Access to Success Initiative. In the last five years, the total     numbers of low-income freshmen are up 30 percent across our system, and     underrepresented minority freshmen are up 13 percent. Total number of     degrees awarded to underrepresented minority students is also up by 26     percent in the last five years.

For more information on “A Commitment to the Future,” please visit www.aplu.org or www.aascu.org.