LIVONIA, Mich. — In an interview following her testimony to the State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education on Monday, University President Mary Sue Coleman discussed ways the University might cope with an expected drop in state funding — including possibly increasing tuition levels.

Coleman acknowledged that the $22 million in cost-cutting measures she referenced in her testimony — which include information technology consolidation and cost sharing on employee health benefits — will not fully cover the expected $68 million cut next year in state appropriations to the University.

“It’ll be a combination I think of looking at tuition revenue, looking at alternative offerings we could have in the spring and the summer,” Coleman said.

“There might be slight changes in the residency next year,” she said, referring to the composition of in-state and out-of-state students enrolled at the University. However, Coleman said the change, if any, would be very minimal.

Coleman said that because the University was expecting cuts in state appropriations, University officials began budgeting in such a way that the University would absorb the cuts over three years, instead of taking the hit all at once.

“In our three-year model … we wanted to let students know about planning for more regular and modest tuition increases,” Coleman said. “We’re not talking about 10 percent, we’re talking about less than that.”

Last year and the year before, tuition increased by 5.6 percent. Tuition increased by 7.4 percent in the 2007-2008 academic year and by 5.5 percent the 2006-2007 academic year.

Coleman said she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a similar tuition increase next year. However, she said, there are still too many variables to pinpoint what tuition increase students may see next year.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do yet so I don’t want (people) to sort of think that that’s the way,” Coleman said of the 5.6-percent increase. “But our notion was to try to keep things regular and steady rather than have big swings one way or the other.”

One of the primary moving targets still in play, Coleman said, is whether the state’s appropriation will actually come in at the expected level.

“One of the reasons that it’s so uncertain right now and we can’t tell, is will the governor’s proposal hold? Will it not hold? Will it be a smaller cut than we anticipated? Will it be higher than we anticipated?,” Coleman said.

With so many unknowns, Coleman said the one thing she can promise is that she’ll do her best to ensure any tuition increase will be as modest as possible.

“What I will promise is that we will do everything within our power to keep the cost (affordable),” Coleman said. “We understand how important that is to students.”

Coleman also reaffirmed the University’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all in-state students, pledging to again increase financial aid by at least as much as tuition is increased.

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