In her annual State of the State address tonight, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to ask state colleges not to raise student tuition next year.

But University officials aren’t making any promises.

In an interview yesterday, Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs Philip Hanlon said he wasn’t yet aware of the specifics of Granholm’s plan. He said the University hasn’t determined if a tuition increase will be necessary next year.

“We don’t actually have the specifics of what Granholm is going to propose, but we look forward to learning more from her address tomorrow evening,” Hanlon said.

Granholm is expected to call for a tuition freeze at all state schools in exchange for increases in state funding and additional money from the stimulus package currently being considered by the U.S. Senate. Granholm is also expected to penalize schools that raise tuition by decreasing state aid and possibly redirecting stimulus money.

Last year Granholm made a similar call to universities, asking them to cap tuition increases to the rate of inflation, then 2.3 percent. Granholm had planned to give universities a 3-percent increase in state funding last year, but the legislature reduced that amount to a 1-percent increase.

When asked whether the University would raise tuition next year, Hanlon would not comment, saying it was too early in the budget process to speculate about possible tuition increases.

“We’re in the very early stages of developing next year’s budgets so we’re still trying to understand our cost increases,” he said. “We’re working really hard on expenditure reduction efforts and we’re also watching next year’s enrollment very closely. Those are all very crucial things to our budget for next year.”

Although it’s early in the budget process, Hanlon said the University understands the economic difficulties families are facing and will make financial aid a major priority.

“We share (Granholm’s) concerns about the financial hardships of our state and all the citizens of our state,” he said. “I can assure you that financial aid will be a big focus in our budget planning and development.”

The University has raised tuition every year for the past nine years. Increases have ranged from a 2.8 percent-increase in 2000 and 2004 to a 12.3-percent increase in 2005.

The University raised tuition by 5.6 percent last year, when the state’s 15 public universities averaged a seven percent tuition increase.

Hanlon said although the University has raised tuition in the past, financial aid increases have often outpaced tuition increases.

Increasing financial aid resources and containing costs will continue to be priorities for the University, Hanlon said.

“One thing I can assure you is that accessibility is going to be a really high priority,” he said.

Granholm’s will deliver the State of the State tonight at 7 p.m. from the House chamber of the state Capitol before a joint session of the state House and Senate.

—The Associate Press contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.