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MSU Ranks 3rd in Big Ten tuition increase

August 2, 2009

It’s a competition no one wants to win: Which Big Ten university has the highest tuition? And which one had the biggest tuition increase for the 2009-10 year? MSU has the sixth highest tuition in the Big Ten and the third largest tuition increase for 2009-10. A resident MSU freshman will pay about $10,800 in tuition for 2009-10, an increase of about 5.2 percent, according to information from MSU.

At the high end of the spectrum is Northwestern University, costing undergraduates about $38,000 in tuition. Northwestern is the only private institution in the Big Ten.

The lowest tuition increase of the Big Ten is the University of Iowa, where an in-state freshman will pay about $6,800 for 2009-10.

A welcomed freeze

Despite the differences in the universities, all but one raised tuition for the 2009-10 year.

The exception was Ohio State University, which held its tuition at the 2006-07 levels. Tuition for an in-state freshman at Ohio State will be about $8,400.

The 2009-10 year is the third in a row Ohio State has been able to freeze tuition and the first time tuition has remained the same for more than two years since 1955, Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch said.

“We have a governor here in Ohio and a Legislature that truly believes the future growth of Ohio will be through public colleges and universities, so they have provided an increasing amount of state funding to help universities keep their tuition flat,” Lynch said. “They know that universities and colleges can be an economic engine for the growth of Ohio. Parents and students seem to be very pleased.”

The home team

Unlike Ohio State, MSU raised its tuition for in-state undergraduates 5.2 percent for 2009-10 and 4.9 percent for 2010-11, according to MSU’s budget development overview approved by the Board of Trustees in June.

The increase was the third highest in the Big Ten with the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison being higher.

U-M raised tuition 5.6 percent for 2009-10 and Wisconsin raised tuition 5.5 percent.

MSU’s hike reflected a 3.1 percent decrease in state appropriations — or about $9.1 million — bringing MSU’s expected appropriations to about $283.9 million, according to the guidelines.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said tuition rates are related to state appropriations and the number of in-state students. Out-of-state students pay more tuition, so they generate more revenue.

“Our tuition rate is viewed as competitive in the Big Ten,” Simon said. “But the Big Ten overall is very competitive in terms of academic institutions.”

Simon said one way MSU is battling increases in tuition is through raising financial aid by 30 percent; 17 percent in 2009-10 and 13 percent in 2010-11.

“I think the pattern of trying to assure financial aid grows more than tuition will continue,” Simon said. “Hopefully, the state will start providing support to us, which will help us moderate tuition.”

Seeing green in the land of maize and blue

U-M had the highest tuition increase in the Big Ten for the 2009-10 year at 5.6 percent. This brings tuition for an in-state freshman in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts to about $11,600 for 2009-10, an increase of about $622.

U-M spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said the university countered the increase with the largest financial aid increase in U-M history — 11.7 percent.

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“When we’re thinking about our budget — this year we were looking at the state of the economy — there were two priorities: one is a commitment to providing students with one of the best educational experiences and (the other is) access to the experience — and that means financial aid,” Cunningham said. “We added $10 million to budget for financial aid. I think that is about $118 million total for financial aid — that’s a record amount for us.”

U-M has the fourth highest tuition in the Big Ten. Cunningham said U-M has been working on keeping costs and tuition down.

“Everyone in Michigan is working on keeping cost down; we have been for years now,” she said. “We’re getting pretty good at it. We always increase financial aid as much as the tuition increases.”

A waiting game

Penn State University, which has the highest tuition of the public universities in the Big Ten, increased tuition 4.5 percent for undergraduates on its main campus, University Park.

This brings tuition to about $13,600 for an in-state undergraduate at Penn State.

Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said the university is waiting to hear about its state appropriations.

“The state of Pennsylvania does not yet have a budget in place — the Legislature and governor are still not in agreement over the budget, so the fiscal year started July 1, and our state has no budget,” Mountz said. “So we had to try to anticipate what we might be looking at in terms of appropriation.”

Penn State’s Board of Trustees met July 17 to institute a tuition increase option that was lower than previous estimates. It ranges from an increase of 3.7-4.5 percent depending on residency and campus location, according to a statement.

Still, the amount of tuition could change once Pennsylvania approves its budget, Mountz said.

“Once the state has a budget and we know our appropriations, we’re hoping appropriation is in line with our expectations and that we can keep tuition levels set where they are now,” she said. “It would be possible if the appropriation fell well below what we are hoping for, we may need to institute a mid-year tuition increase.”


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