The University of Missouri–St. Louis has waived tuition payments for online courses in the summer and fall with plans to do the same for the spring semester. Waiving online tuition fees for these three sessions will reduce the university’s incoming revenue by $5 million during a time when the state will, as of now, withhold $7.9 million in funding.
“When moving to online learning in the spring, we decided to make our summer program 100% remote just to be safe,” says Chief of Staff Bob Samples. “But we didn’t want to penalize our students who would have normally enrolled in classes on campus, so we decided to waive all fees.”
By May, summer enrollment was down by 15%, but soon increased to 3.5% above summer enrollment in previous years on the first day of classes. This percentage continually fluctuates.
“When speaking with students, offering free tuition wasn’t the whole reason why they enrolled in our summer classes, but they expressed it was a great burden lifted from them,” says Samples. This student feedback helped university budget planning groups to agree on eliminating tuition for the fall—and now the spring.
The institution continues to make adjustments to the budgets as the state constantly withholds more funding. For example, the university just approved a pay reduction for faculty and staff who make more than $50,000 to support other initiatives, such as waiving tuition fees. “It’s a tiered system where higher salaries receive a higher reduction in pay,” says Samples. This policy change will impact 52% employees.
“In St. Louis, the average family income is less than $55,000,” says Samples, “so there is a great need to step forward and provide solutions that are as cost effective as possible for our students.”
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