Missouri’s community colleges receive financial support from three primary sources—tuition, local property tax, and state appropriations. The proportion of each revenue source varies in each college’s budget.
Unlike Missouri's universities, which each have a line item appropriation in the state budget, Missouri's community colleges receive a single appropriation. This sum is appropriated to the Department of Higher Education and distributed according to a formula developed cooperatively by the community colleges and the MDHE.
The reason community colleges and public universities are treated differently is that community colleges (unlike public universities) are local political subdivisions. The state constitution is generally interpreted as prohibiting the appropriation of state funds directly to political subdivisions.
Community colleges also receive support from economic development programs for which funds are appropriated in HB 7, the bill that provides money for the Department of Economic Development and its programs.
Since 2010 higher education funding has been appropriated through a “performance funding” process. Through this, higher education institutions receive state appropriations based on how well they perform according to several benchmarks. Success on each measure is defined as improvement over the previous year’s performance or, where applicable and appropriate, sustained performance in the top quartile of the National Community College Benchmarking Project.
Community college boards of trustees have sole authority to set tuition.
For 2016-2017, the average tuition and fees at a public university is $7,859—$4,663 more than the highest community college in-district tuition and $3,199 more than the average community college out-of-district tuition. Average out-of-state tuition at public universities is $16,951, with a range of $10,452 to $28,897.
College Revenue by Source
Each college has a “taxing district,” shown in black on the map on the left. These districts define the area in which property taxes are assessed to support the college.
Taxing districts consist of one or more school districts, so the boundaries follow school district boundaries. The college’s taxing district includes the school districts that were included when the college district was initially established by voters, as well as any school districts in which residents have voted to join the taxing district.
For most of Missouri's community colleges, the area that the college receives tax revenue from is significantly smaller than the college's service area.
Each district’s property tax support is different; the size and value of taxing districts varies greatly, as does the voter-approved tax rate.