Jefferson City -- Missouri's public colleges and universities describe grave consequences to their students, programs, campuses and faculties if cuts of 15 to 25 percent of their state appropriations are made in the next fiscal year.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education today received detailed scenarios requested by the General Assembly outlining the impacts the cuts would have on colleges and universities across the state.

Paul Wagner, deputy commissioner of higher education, says the college and university responses all have a common thread — students will be short-changed and the greater economy will be damaged if the cuts are enacted.

"These types of cuts are huge and unprecedented," Wagner says. "Missouri colleges and universities are already severely underfunded, with state support still below the 2001-2002 levels and near the lowest in the nation. Institutions have been doing more with less for a long time -- instituting cost-saving measures while serving more and more students. Additional cuts could mean lots of people will be laid off, tuition could go up, enrollments could be capped, and Missouri families and communities throughout the state will feel the impact."

Regardless of size, all institutions predicted dire results from cuts of this magnitude. For example:

Missouri State University in Springfield said a 25 percent budget cut would exceed the total amount of student scholarships and financial aid awarded by the school, or the entire budget of any of the colleges at the university. Even the smaller 15 percent cut would exceed the total budget of its West Plains campus, its College of Education, or the intercollegiate athletics program.

Donald Claycomb, president of Linn State Technical College, says roughly nine percent of all earnings in Osage County can be attributed to the college. "Every dollar taxpayers invest today in support of Linn State Technical College returns $2.60 in increased tax revenue to Missouri," Claycomb says. "That's a rate of return of 9.1 percent. Support for higher education isn't a cost, it's an investment."

Truman State University in Kirksville based their impact statement on a tuition increase cap of 3 percent. "All cuts or withholdings will negatively impact the unique mission of the University and its ability to serve students," the report states, citing state support that is still $8.5 million lower than 2002 levels when adjusted for inflation. The projected reductions of $6.2 million to $10.4 million could lay off 124 to 208 faculty and staff at Truman.

The report from St. Charles Community College says a tuition increase of 12.5 percent will be needed to offset a 25 percent cut. "The students who cannot afford tuition will be forced to take lower paying jobs, if available, which means a decreased quality of life and a smaller tax base for St. Charles County," the report states.

Northwest Missouri State University projects a freeze on salaries and benefits, increased class sizes, more adjunct instruction and a tuition increase of at least 5.5 percent to meet a potential cut of 15 percent.

The Missouri Department of Education will analyze the budget cut scenarios and issue a summary statement along with institutional reports to the General Assembly Dec. 22.