Higher education is an investment.

As students, it’s an investment in ourselves.

It’s also an investment in the future.

While investing in college, a lot of the financial burden gets placed on the backs of students, shackling them with debt that will take years and even decades to pay off.

With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see the state making some investments in higher education. As Missouri House Bill 2003 sits on the Governor Nixon’s desk, universities, colleges and students across Missouri are a signature away from receiving some much-needed investment.

What HB 2003 does is increase state appropriations to higher education institutions by four percent next year. That may not sound like a lot, but in higher education, every dollar matters.

It’s also important to keep in mind what we could have gotten in terms of an increase: two percent. The original House Bill proposed that increase to universities and colleges as just enough to keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the Senate version of the appropriations bill called for a six percent increase.

While six percent would have been great, the four percent shows a willingness to reach a compromise on higher education funding and an effort by the state to invest in higher education.

Additionally, while universities across the state directly benefit under this proposal, so do students.

Along with allocating appropriations, the HB 2003 also puts in place a tuition freeze for the next academic year. This means Missouri Western students will continue to pay the third-lowest tuition in the state at $197.79 per credit hour.

As everything seems to be getting more and more expensive, the fact that the already high price of college is staying the same for the next year is a pleasant surprise.

Really, we’re lucky. As other states, including our neighbor Kansas, struggle to fund higher education and even actively cut funding, it’s nice to see that our state legislature is willing to work together to help out both higher education institutions and the students they serve. While there may have differences at the beginning, it’s good that a compromise could be reached that benefits everyone.

As the academic year comes to a close in Missouri, the signing of HB2003 would be a great way to end the year. And with the tuition freeze, it would be an even better way to start off next year for students as well.

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