After Joshua Guedesse was admitted to the University this spring he checked his financial aid statement on Wolverine Access, hoping the University had provided him with enough money to allow him to transfer from Monroe County Community College.
The statement told him that he was being billed at the out-of-state tuition rate of $40,000 per year.
“I was in shock,” Guedesse said. “I had no idea why I was being charged that much or how I was going to pay for it.”
Although Guedesse graduated from high school in Michigan and has his own apartment in Monroe, he was charged out-of-state tuition because his father, an active member of the U.S Coast Guard, was transferred to Illinois last year.
Guedesse immediately called the University, which said a change to the initial financial aid statement could take six to eight weeks.
Guedesse then sent a letter to the Detroit Free Press.
After the Free Press ran a story about him on May 23, Guedesse received phone calls from lawmakers and the University Alumni Association Chairman, former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, who said they would do everything they could to help him.
“In the beginning I was really frustrated with the University,” he said. “But I was really lucky to receive all the publicity and all the help I got from the Alumni Association and others.”
The morning the story was published in the Free Press, members from the University’s Alumni Association called Guedesse to offer their support.
“They were such a huge help,” Guedesse said. “Three days after the story was published, I received a letter from the University saying I was being granted in-state tuition.”
In a statement to the Free Press on May 25, Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts said, “under current policy, a student whose non-Michigan military family leaves the state after being temporarily stationed would not qualify for the (in-state) tuition waiver.”
He added, “the University is deeply sympathetic to the unique circumstances of military families and is currently reviewing its policies.”
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said no changes have yet been made to the policy.
“Nothing has been changed or decided as of yet,” Cunningham said. “Relevant UM administrators are considering the current policy and are discussing how any changes to it to account for Mr. Guedesse’s situation may impact residency policy as to other students, including creating unanticipated inequities for students in similar situations.”
Tuition policies related to student residency are approved and enacted by the University Board of Regents, said Cunningham.
She said any changes to the tuition policy must be approved by the Residency Office, the Residency Appeal Committee and the Provost.
“Changes to the residency policy occur when the Residency Office and Residency Appeal Committee, in conjunction with the Provost’s office, determine that an amendment to current policy is appropriate,” she said. “A recommendation for modification of the policy is made by the Provost’s office to the Board, which then considers the recommendation and votes to either approve or reject it.”
Cunningham said Guedesse’s case could not be addressed further due to student privacy issues.
She said no similar cases have ever been brought to the University’s attention.
Guedesse said he doubts the University will make substantial changes to its policy now that his case has been dealt with.
“I doubt they will change their policies,” Guedesse said. “They have their own agenda, but I hope they do address it so that no one has to go through this again.”