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Differential College Tuition Based on Degree Program

February 22, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Brittany Whitley

The cost of college instruction (tuition) and fees at public postsecondary institutions varies based on state, school and student characteristics. Most public institutions in the United States offer discounted tuition for state residents, and some institutions use differential tuition to vary costs based on degree program or program year.

Missouri law (RSMo 173.003) currently limits tuition setting authority for public higher education institutions by capping the extent to which they can raise tuition and required fees.

House Bill 856 proposes a five-year suspension of this law, which would make it possible for Missouri institutions to either uniformly raise tuition rates or implement differential tuition based on degree program. While differential tuition is considered a more transparent alternative to the existing student fee structure, it may limit access to certain fields (e.g., STEM) for minoritized groups, including women, low-income students and students of color.

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