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Monday, August 3, 2015

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Higher education at top of agenda for state legislatures, according to report

By Alex McClung          Posted: 01/06/13 7:01pm         

A recent article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education outlined how higher education will remain a priority for state legislatures. The article highlights how a stagnant economy and political polarization might keep public universities from receiving an increase in funding, after many states, including Michigan, saw decreased funding during the economic recession. The lack of funding caused tuition increases for many universities, including MSU.

The rising costs of Medicaid and elementary and secondary education, coupled with an economy growing at a slower rate this year than the previous fiscal year, have caused lower appropriations for public universities.

After receiving significant cuts, MSU’s state funding increased for the 2012-13 fiscal year, receiving a gross appropriation of about $298,733,800, compared to $283,685,200. But funding did not increase enough to keep the MSU Board of Trustees from approving a 3.5 percent tuition increase for in-state students and a 5 percent increase for out-of-state students for this academic year.

I recently wrote an article that detailed MSU’s placement on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine’s top 100 best values in public colleges list. The university placed 46th for in-state value and 66th for out-of-state value.

Both Val Meyers, associate director of the MSU Office of Financial Aid, and Marc Wojno, Kiplinger senior associate editor, said that significant cuts from state funding can have an impact on a university’s value.

“The fact that we’ve been going through a recession and we’re slowly recovering from it, the cost of attending universities aren’t really seeing (financial relief) transfer to them,” Wojno said. “States still are cutting appropriations to state colleges, and in response schools have been bumping up costs.”

Meyers said the change in state funding during the past five years has had a significant impact on how MSU allocates funds, although the university’s financial aid is trying to offset increasing costs.

“Most of the schools like (MSU) were not able to make up the difference (from funding cuts) with their own funds,” Meyers said. “If state funding was higher, it would help the overall picture for us.”

With this in mind, unless the economy improves and the state is able to increase appropriations for public schools including MSU, it is very possible that tuition continues to increase in coming years, and MSU’s value in rankings, such as the one provided by Kiplinger, might drop.

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