On Michigan license plates, school pride goes a long way.
Those alumni license plates showing the collegiate allegiances of Michigan’s motorists have raised some serious money for the University of Michigan and other schools in the state.
In Michigan, drivers in the program must pay an additional, one-time fee of $35 on top of the annual registration fee the state requires. While the state makes no additional money from the university plate program, $25 from the additional fee goes directly to the school featured on the plate.
Following that initial payment, drivers must pay the state’s vehicle registration fee plus an additional $10 each year, which goes directly to the university featured on the plate.
Each campus of the University of Michigan offers unique license plates for their supporters.
Between all three campuses, there are a total of 245,331 University license plates on the road, which has translated into $3.2 million in revenue for the University since the program began in 2000, according to Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
With roughly 9 million plated vehicles in Michigan, the University of MIchigan is represented on almost 3 percent of all cars in the state.
Last year alone, the University of Michigan received around $381,000 in revenue from the plates, according to Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations at the University.
The target of those funds is left up to the discretion of each school.
At the University, the money has been routed to University-affiliated outreach activities.
The revenue contributed to the School of Nursing’s Community Family Health Center, which Wilbanks said “provides outreach for access to health care to at-risk and underserved populations.”
In the past, support has also gone to the Michigan Marching Band, the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, which received $15,000, and funding for the pilot program for Semester in Detroit, which received about $116,000.
Though the state offers more than 20 personalized plate options, the University of Michigan’s plate remains one of the state’s top sellers, coming in third after the “Proud to be an American” plate and one that features the Michigan State University logo.
“I think it is a good way to show your pride,” Wilbanks said. “The revenues that come from those plates help to support a variety of activities that I think all institutions are using to further expand their reach into the communities around the state, which is a good thing.”
Started in 2000, the university plate program offers logos from Michigan’s 15 state universities emblazoned license plates through the Secretary of State’s office.
Chesney said the program is a way for residents, friends and alumni to “show their pride in the university of their choice.”
University of Michigan Alumni Association members and other universities’ supporters took steps to include all of Michigan’s state universities in the program as early as 10 years ago, when the plates became popular elsewhere in the country.
After interest was expressed in university plates, action was taken and legislation enacted to include all of Michigan’s state universities in the program, according to Wilbanks.
“The legislation permitted the state to issue these license plates, and the universities were instrumental in lobbying the legislature to permit that to happen,” she said.