The sky is officially the limit when talking about possible tuition increases for next year at the University. Recent financial constraints due to decreased state funding have placed the University in a tight situation with regard to its budget next year, and students and families fear the missing dollars will be filled in by big tuition hikes over the summer.
Currently, there are no legal limitations on the amount that state universities in Michigan can raise tuition between semesters, which is something that lobbyists at the Association of Michigan Universities are trying to change.
“If the UM Regents say that they promise to not raise tuition beyond a certain level, there’s really nothing holding them to their promise,” AMU spokeswoman Sarah Neitzke said.
“Tomorrow they could decide that they need to renege on their promise and go ahead and raise tuition anyway. If the state puts a tuition cap on the universities, then the boards have no choice but to obey the cap.”
University officials have not been willing to speculate on the exact size of the upcoming increases, but other Michigan universities, such as Michigan Tech and Oakland University, have predicted hikes between 18 and 20 percent.
During a speech before the Michigan House of Representative Higher Education sub-committee, University President Mary Sue Coleman said that the University is committed to limiting tuition increases to a reasonable amount, suggesting that a cap would not be necessary to keep rates from skyrocketing.
“We have kept tuition increases as low as possible over the past several years, especially in comparison to our Big 10 counterparts,” Coleman said. “Our financial aid increases have kept pace – and more – with our tuition increases in order to continue to provide access for those with need. This is a principle to which we are dedicated.”
Nearly all students are concerned about rising tuition, but a legal cap on increases is not something all students support. LSA sophomore Dan King believes the University can be trusted to keep tuition rates moderate. Failure to do so would harm the entire university community by alienating qualified students, he said.
“I think the University is working in our best interests. You have to give a certain amount of trust to the qualified people we elected to lead the University,” King said. “It’s a difficult balance between raising rates a certain amount and getting people here who will benefit the entire University.”
Other students argue that if left to the administration, rising tuition could rise to a financially crippling level.
“I’m an out of state student, and I think that U of M has one of the highest out-of-state tuition rates in the country,” LSA freshman Kristen Childress said. “Increasing the tuition would make it even more difficult for people who don’t live in Michigan.”