Wednesday, August 10, 2022

U-M contemplates tuition increase

July 19, 2001

Kary Howard hasn’t been able to lay in the sun, relax or read a good book this summer.

Instead, the agriculture and natural resources and communications senior has to work two jobs.

She’s prepping for her tuition bill, complete with its 8.9 percent tuition increase.

“I had grant money to cover it before,” she said. “It was kind of a ‘smack in the face’ type thing. What am I going to live on?”

The university’s 8.9 percent tuition increase comes after a year of high utility and health care costs and a low state higher education appropriation - 1.5 percent - so state universities have been scrambling to compensate for the low funding by raising tuition.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents will vote Friday on a proposed 6.5 percent tuition increase - the university’s highest increase in years, but nearly the lowest proposal in the Big Ten.

“We are less dependent on state appropriations than other schools, including MSU,” said Paul Courant, U-M associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs. “We are more reliant on tuition. I think that we have done our very best to make that number as low as we can make it.”

Courant said he hasn’t heard a reaction from students at U-M, although the increase is significantly higher than last year’s 2.8 percent increase.

He believes most students understand that low state appropriations mean higher tuition - although he was surprised to see how high MSU’s went.

“I was surprised because it was such a departure from the recent past,” he said. “I know that MSU faces cost pressures, and the 1.5 percent increase was going to be a problem.”

MSU President M. Peter McPherson said the university will continue to work for the repeal of the tuition tax credit through the state Legislature - a move that would bring the university’s increase down to 6 percent.

“I think it’s very unclear what they’ll do,” he said. “The bills will go out for the 8.9 percent in the next few days. We will make clear in those bills that if the tax credit is repealed, we will give a credit of about $150 for the year.”

But despite the effort both universities have made to keep tuition low, some students are still curious about why MSU’s tuition is rising so high above U-M’s.

A funding gap between the state’s three major research universities - MSU, U-M and Wayne State University - helped disqualify the tuition guarantee this year.

One of the inflation-based guarantee’s requirements is that the Legislature help balance the funding inequalities between the universities - a requirement that hasn’t been met.

Women’s studies senior Juanita Smith said she’s glad to be done with the university at the end of the summer, even though she’ll miss the perks of student life.

“If I was still going to be here, I’d be more upset,” she said. “I was just thinking ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to pay for that,’ but it’s still not fair.”

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