State funding for the University of Michigan will remain stable under the new budget signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday. Until the new budget was announced, it was unclear if the state would decrease appropriations for the University as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget, which took effect Thursday, includes $322.9 million for the University’s Ann Arbor campus, $26.3 million for U-M Dearborn and $24 million for U-M Flint. The same amount was allocated in 2019, an increase from 2018.
Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, told The University Record that the University is happy with the approved budget. Wilbanks also said there is uncertainty for the state budget in future years, as the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy is unknown.
“Considering the still-challenging economic circumstances that our state is facing right now, a budget with no funding reduction is welcome news,” Wilbanks said. “This plan reflects the understanding by the legislature and governor that the continued success of our state’s universities will be essential to Michigan’s economic stability as we navigate the pandemic. We appreciate this support.”
In a Sept. 30 press release, Whitmer said the budget creation process was challenging but successful in serving the state’s residents.
“While this budget faced many challenges along the way amidst a global pandemic, I am pleased that we were able to come together and produce a budget that funds the programs and services that matter most to our residents,” Whitmer said. “This has not been easy, but in the end the executive and legislative branches of government worked together to do what is expected and demanded of us and we now have a budget that will serve Michigan well.”
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, there was an unexpected reduction in initial state appropriations to the University as a result of the pandemic. That same amount was then provided, with spending restrictions, to the University through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The funding from the newly-approved state budget is contingent upon the University not increasing in-state undergraduate tuition by more than 4.25% or $586. If this condition is not met, the state will withhold any new operations or capital outlay funding for the next three years.
The University’s Board of Regents approved a budget for the University in June, including a 1.9 percent increase in tuition and room and board fees for the Ann Arbor campus, after the proposed tuition increase had failed five days prior. Many students were upset with the tuition increase because it added to coronavirus-related financial burdens.
LSA sophomore Becca Stachel previously told The Daily she found it hard to justify paying higher tuition for mostly online classes.
“A lot of people aren't financially stable (after the pandemic) and tuition is a huge burden on a lot of students,” Stachel said. “So, to have a lesser quality of education, but still have to pay the same amount of money when you likely also took pay cuts because of the pandemic, seems unfair to me.”
After the University’s budget and increase were approved, University President Mark Schlissel said the University hoped to help students complete their education in spite of the changes.
“We are committed to do our very best to make sure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not result in a lost generation of students who were unable to continue or complete their Michigan educations because of the circumstances we all find ourselves in,” Schlissel said.
Daily Staff Reporter Emma Ruberg can be reached at email@example.com.
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