BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published June 25, 2014
Last Saturday, the University's Board of Regents passed the school’s operating budget and a multitude of proposals including tuition increases, a hike in housing costs, an initiative to decrease class sizes and an increase in need-based financial aid allocations. While increasing the amount of faculty members and keeping tuition hikes under the rate of inflation for in-state students is commendable, the Regents should provide more assistance to help students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who reside both in and out of the state afford a University education.
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The Regents prevented a higher increase for Michigan residents by once again raising out-of-state tuition. Students who reside in Michigan will face a 1.6 percent tuition increase, paying $206 more a year while out-of-state students will experience a 3.2 percent tuition increase bringing the their undergraduate tuition to $41,578 for the fall and winter semesters. A 5.8 percent increase in the state appropriations to the University helped lessen the burden of rising tuition costs and boosted financial aid amounts though the appropriations were minute compared to previous decades.
Given the University’s a public institution supported by Michigan taxpayers, Michigan residents should be given the opportunity to pay lower tuition than out-of-state students. However, non-Michigan students paying more than three times as much as Michigan residents causes problems for lower SES students residing out of the state. With out-of-state tuition costing more than $50,000 a year including housing, middle and lower class families struggle to afford tuition. This expense oftentimes makes the University only plausible for out-of-state students from high SES backgrounds. While the University has increased student aid by $19.5 million this year, these funds will predominantly go to resident students. Increasing aid by 17.2 percent is admirable on the Board’s part, however, more work should go to help all students of lower socioeconomic statuses and diversify the SES backgrounds at the University.
To further aid students, the Board of Regents allocated $6 million in the operating budget towards a program aimed at hiring at least 60 new faculty members within a two years. With more faculty members, University students will experience smaller class sizes which has been shown to increase learning among students and lower the achievement gap between ethnic and racial groups. Similarly, students are able to form more personal relationships with their professors and receive more feedback during the course in smaller classes. With tuition increases under the inflation rate, financial aid increases and a decrease in classroom size will benefit thousands of University students.