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4 to 5 percent tuition hike depends on state funding

April 27, 2009

The MSU Board of Trustees is considering a 4 to 5 percent increase in tuition for the 2009-10 year, citing uncertainty surrounding federal economic stimulus money and less than anticipated state funding.

The stimulus at one point could have provided MSU with about $80 million dollars over a three-year period, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said last Friday during MSU’s board meeting.

Simon said she met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier last week. Pelosi said stimulus money was supposed to be used for higher education, but since Michigan has not yet balanced its budget it may use stimulus money to fill in the gaps, Simon said.

Simon said she doesn’t know how much money, if any, MSU will receive.

“That would put us at a competitive disadvantage than some of our peers where other states are in a more stable financial situation and they are using stimulus money to aggressively grow programs they see necessary for the state’s future,” Simon said.

The state’s budget must be finalized by Oct. 1, while the university’s budget must be finalized by June 30.

Provost Kim Wilcox said planning the university’s budget — which includes tuition changes — entails a certain amount of guesswork in regard to how much money MSU will receive from the state.

“It is the case every year; we kind of take the leap of faith with the state,” Wilcox said. “We make our best guess of what we think the state support is going to be and we build the budget around that. The president has committed to adjusting the best we can to keep us whole.”

MSU Board of Trustees member Dianne Byrum said the university was hoping to minimize the tuition increase with stimulus money, and tuition rates were directly tied to state support.

But tuition isn’t the only avenue the university is considering to maintain its quality, Byrum said.

“We’re not just looking at tuition increases as means to balance the budget — all things are in consideration and all things are on the table,” she said. “We want to make sure that we keep the high value of an MSU degree intact — that quality is very important, but it still needs to be affordable.”

Trustee Donald Nugent said the board hopes to keep the tuition increase down to 4 or 5 percent.

“No question, the state is very short on funds and appropriations will be less than what we hope for,” Nugent said. “The board and management (are) doing everything we can possibly to keep tuition down.”

Education senior Alicia Daniels said she has come to expect the increases.

“I feel like any response (to a tuition increase) would be negative,” Daniels said. “I feel like it does always happen.”

At the board meeting, Simon said MSU is looking at raising financial aid by about 15 percent to help students. MSU gave almost $470 million in financial aid during the 2007-08 year.

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