Granholm to ask for halt on tuition increases
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will propose a tuition freeze for state colleges and universities Tuesday during her State of the State address, with the schools that comply getting additional state funding.
Granholm will ask higher education officials to halt tuition increases and ask state legislators to approve additional state funding to colleges and universities that comply, said Liz Boyd, Granholm’s spokeswoman. The proposed tuition freeze would take effect beginning fall 2009.
The state funding increase likely would come directly from the $819 billion economic stimulus plan being considered by Congress, $6 billion of which would go to higher education.
“We are hoping and expecting that universities will realize, as we do, that in these very tough economic times, we need to protect our citizens and their pocketbooks,” Boyd said.
“If the universities honor that request, we would reward them with economic stimulus funds that would be coming from Washington.”
Granholm’s proposal will be included in her formal state budget presentation Feb. 12, Boyd said. State lawmakers will need to approve Granholm’s budget before a tuition freeze request can take form.
How much money would go to universities under the proposal is unclear because the federal stimulus plan has not been approved. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill last week, and the U.S. Senate is expected to consider it this week.
In June, the MSU Board of Trustees increased tuition 6.8 percent for in-state undergraduates and 7.1 percent for out-of-state undergraduates for the 2008-09 academic year.
Four months later, the university raised tuition another 1.2 percent for the spring semester. The university cited a 1 percent increase in state appropriations as reason for the second increase. The state’s appropriations increase was 2 percent less than the university had expected.
Mike Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, said state universities won’t commit to a tuition freeze until the official state budget is released.
MSU Trustee Colleen McNamara agreed with Boulus and said the university can’t begin to discuss the governor’s plan until state budget numbers are solidified.
“The implications from the governor is, if we freeze tuition, that somehow we’re made whole with the stimulus money,” she said. “We have no idea what’s happening with the stimulus money.”
Boulus said he expects to “see some pain” for higher education when the state announces its budget allocations.
“I think you really have to worry, given the fact that the state has really disinvested year after year in our universities, how we could maintain quality and accessibility by simply freezing tuition and taking another cut from the state,” Boulus said.