Courtesy of University of Michigan.

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The University of Michigan Board of Regents met virtually on Thursday to discuss an expansion of the Go Blue Guarantee scholarship and the 2021-2022 University budget.

Regents expand Go Blue Guarantee to Dearborn and Flint Campuses with GPA minimum 

In a 7-0 vote, the Regents approved the expansion of the Go Blue Guarantee to the University of Michigan-Flint and Dearborn campuses. The Go Blue Guarantee is a free-tuition scholarship for in-state students whose family income is less than $65,000 annually, which is the state’s median income. 

On Wednesday, students from across all three University of Michigan campuses gathered in Ann Arbor to protest for equitable funding at the Dearborn and Flint campuses. Their central demand was for the regents to reallocate $100 million over the next 5 years to an endowed fund split between the Flint and Dearborn campuses. 

The Go Blue Guarantee was first approved by the board in 2017.. Previous to today’s vote, the Go Blue Guarantee was only available to students on the Ann Arbor campus.

Regent Mark Bernstein (D) spoke in support of expanding the Go Blue Guarantee to the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

“Three years ago this board made a promise to the students of Michigan that if you show outstanding academic achievement in high school, you can attend our Ann Arbor campus no matter your family’s financial resources. Today we take that promise one huge step forward,” Bernstein said. “It’s an investment that is focused on student retention and success on these campuses.”

Incoming students on the Dearborn and Flint campuses attempting to receive the Go Blue Guarantee must have at least a 3.5 high school GPA. There is no minimum GPA requirement to receive the Go Blue Guarantee on the Ann Arbor campus. 

During public comments, rising LSA senior Annie Mintun, speaker of the U-M Central Student Government Assembly (CSG) and member of the One University (1U) campaign, expressed her gratitude for the expansion of the Go Blue Guarantee, but disagreed with the GPA requirement for students on the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

“It was really exciting to see… the Go Blue Guarantee would be instituted on all three campuses… It was a bit disappointing to hear that there would be a 3.5 GPA requirement,” Mintun said. “In order to truly see tri-campus equity we (the 1U campaign) will be asking to do away with this GPA requirement which only exists at the Dearborn and Flint campuses and essentially says admittance to the University of Michigan at Flint and Dearborn is not enough.”

In an email to The Michigan Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that the rationale behind the 3.5 GPA requirement is because essentially all students on the Ann Arbor campus have an incoming GPA of 3.5 or higher, so the GPA requirement is to ensure consistency across the three campuses.

Thursday’s vote comes amid controversy regarding an email survey sent to U-M faculty about the expansion of the Go Blue Guarantee. In May, University President Mark Schlissel sent an email to all U-M faculty asking if they support expanding the Go Blue Guarantee to the Flint and Dearborn campuses. However, the questions were phrased to make it appear that expanding the scholarship would come at the expense of the Ann Arbor campus. Schlissel has since apologized for the survey and said that he would not use the results.  

Regents approve 2021-2022 budget, including tuition increase 

The regents also discussed and approved the 2021-2022 University budget. University Provost Susan Collins presented and explained the budget to the board. Collins began her presentation by outlining the basic goals of the budget.

“This year’s budget recommendation reflects our long standing priorities of both academic excellence and affordability,” Collins said. “It is designed to uphold the value of the Michigan education.”

Collins also said the budget includes an expansion of activities and experiences that are typical for first-year students to second-year students. Collins said this was a result of many second-year students having limited experience on campus due to COVID-19 related restrictions. 

“We’re expanding our first year experience programming to our second year students,” Collins said. “This program helps students transition to campus by engaging them in programs for personal and academic growth, navigating campus resources and building meaningful connections with others.”

Collins said the budget acknowledges how difficult the pandemic has been and provides additional funding to expand access to student mental health resources, including increased outreach and improved peer and wellness coaching. 

During the CSG report to the board, CSG President Nithya Arun discussed the importance of expanding access to mental health resources to students during semesters where they are not typically enrolled.

“While so many have been helped by (U-M Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors through the fall and winter semesters, which have the highest enrollment rate, students who need support during the spring and summer semesters have been left without assistance,” Arun said. “I hope the University can take a look into this issue and ensure that none of our students are left without mental health support.”

The budget also includes an increase in pay for many University employees. In addition to contractual salary increases, the budget raises the minimum wage paid by the University to $15 per hour. The minimum wage is for both full-time and part-time permanent University employees. 

The budget included an undergraduate tuition increase of 1.4% ($230 per year) for in-state students and 1.8% ($966 per year) for out-of-state students. Collins said the tuition increases for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students remain below the increase of inflation. 

Schlissel said the tuition increase allows the University to continue funding its programs while also providing financial aid for students who need it.

“Raising tuition rates slightly, less than the rate of inflation, for those who can afford it, allows us to continue the University of Michigan trend of increasing aid for the students who need it the most,” Schlissel said. “For our most affluent in-state students who will pay the tuition increase, it equates to less than $20 more per month.”

The budget also includes a 6.4% increase in the undergraduate financial aid budget. Collins said the net price of tuition will not increase for most in-state students who receive financial aid. According to her presentation, approximately 65% of in-state undergraduate students pay less than full tuition, and 27% of in-state undergraduate students do not pay tuition.

In an interview with The Daily, Regent Paul Brown (D) said he is committed to keeping the University affordable for all students. He explained how a tuition increase will help provide students who need more financial aid.

“I’m not a tuition hawk. I’m an affordability hawk,” Brown said. “It’s no secret that we have a lot of need-based aid, and much of that is paid for by (the) tuition of those of means. Any tuition increase (where) the burden is borne by those who can afford it, so to speak, and the benefit of that tuition increase is focused on making the University more affordable for those that can’t (afford it) is a trade-off I’m willing to make.”

Earlier this week, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) organized a march and rally in front of Schlissel’s house to protest the salary disparities between lecturers across all three University campuses. During public comments in today’s meeting, University of Michigan-Flint and Dearborn faculty members addressed the board to ask for support during contract negotiations between the University and LEO. It is “the union of all non-tenure track faculty (lecturers) on all three campuses of the University of Michigan,” their website reads. 

“I’m asking for your support in pushing the administration to settle contract negotiations by agreeing to a LEO contract that includes parity, dignity, and respect,” University of Michigan-Flint faculty member Veronica Robinson said. 

Public commenters demand transparency and accountability on recent University controversies 

During public comments, alum John Clubb joined several of the other survivors of sexual assault by the late Dr. Robert Anderson in calling for increased transparency and accountability. The board said they sincerely thanked him for his bravery in sharing his experience.

Notably, many of the individuals who spoke during public comments were U-M parents, students and alumni who were all concerned with the tension rising on both sides from Israeli and Palestinian activism. All of the parents who spoke on the issue expressed concerns over antisemitism and their children’s safety at the University.

“We know what words lead to, words lead to violence,” U-M parent Randee Wechsler said. “I am worried about my son’s safety… I am also worried my son will be distracted by all of this noise and lose focus on his academics.”

Daily Staff Reporters Justin O’Beirne and Scarlett Bickerton can be reached at justinob@umich.edu and sbick@umich.edu.