Engler: Lawsuits against MSU, Nassar, others 'should not' impact tuition
After he initially told lawmakers that money needed for settling the lawsuits filed against MSU by survivors of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse might increase tuition for students, Interim President John Engler said they "should not."
On March 15, Engler told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education that the money needed for the settlements will likely come from students and Michigan taxpayers, which could result in an increase in MSU students' tuition.
However, following a meeting with the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, Engler told The State News tuition might not be affected by the litigation.
Engler said no decisions have been finalized yet regarding tuition for the upcoming school year, but said it is settled that many incoming MSU freshmen will not face hikes in tuition.
He referenced the “Go Green, Go 15” campaign, which encourages MSU students to take 15 or more credits every semester to complete their degree within four years, receive a higher grade-point average and save money.
According to the initiative, the cost of a degree, living expenses, future tuition hikes and student loan debt will also decrease if students take a rigorous schedule with 15 credits or more.
As part of the campaign, a "tuition freeze" is proposed, where incoming freshmen who take 15 or more credits will face 2017-18 rates.
“We have to compete for students, and we don’t compete as effectively if we keep raising tuition,” Engler said. “And that’s true for out of state as well as in state.”
In March, Engler told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education that the money needed for the lawsuit payouts would increase if the Michigan House of Representatives were to pass the package of Nassar-inspired bills that were passed in the senate.
The package of bills aim to give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue and increase punishments for those who fail to report suspected abuse.
“There was a question that when I was in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee and I had to point out to them that, unlike Washington, we don’t have a printing press here, and that, you know, we just don’t know,” he said. “My objective is to keep things restrained.”
Engler said, right now, he doesn’t think tuition will be affected by the lawsuits and the university's hiring of law firms.
“That should not. Because to date, we’ve been using what is called non-endowment investment income, so in other words, if we’ve got some money that’s invested in earnings and interest, we’re able to use some of that interest income,” he said. “You know, so to date, we’re happy about that. So, I can say to date, no.”
Engler said he and others are working to reach a settlement that benefits both the survivors of Nassar’s sexual abuse and MSU students.
“We’re operating under the assumption that we’re able to reach an equitable settlement that takes care of the survivors and puts us in a position to go forward and to take care of all of the other students here at Michigan State University,” Engler said.
Engler said he thinks the lawsuits against MSU, USA Gymnastics, Twistars Gymnastics Company, William Strampel and others being settled will allow investigations to “wrap up more quickly.”