During her annual State of the State address last night, Gov. Jennifer Granholm called on Michigan’s public universities not to raise tuition rates next year.

Although details of Granholm’s proposal were not officially announced, aides from her office said she is expected to reward schools that freeze tuition rates with increased state aid and federal funding from the stimulus package currently before the U.S. Senate. Granholm is also expected to penalize schools that raise tuition with decreased state funding.

In her speech, Granholm emphasized that increasing tuition could result in fewer students enrolling in college.

“As we accelerate our push to get more kids to college, we cannot have them priced out of the market by tuition increases,” she said. “I am asking Michigan’s universities and community colleges to freeze tuition for the next academic year. No tuition hikes during this year of economic crisis.”

University Spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham issued a statement following Granholm’s comments on a possible tuition freeze.

“We look forward to learning more details when we see the governor’s budget proposal,” she wrote.

Cunningham’s statement also said the University has made, and will continue to make, financial aid a major priority.

“We agree with the governor that students and their families’ ability to access higher education is a priority,” she wrote. “This is why we have so aggressively moved to raise funds for financial aid during our recent capital campaign and why we use other strategies like MPACT grants to help keep college affordable for students who continue to demand a world-class education from the University of Michigan.”

Cunningham did not respond to whether the University would agree to freeze tuition or whether it would raise tuition next year, but said the University is currently working on its budget for next year.

“We’re in the early stages of developing next year’s budget, which typically is presented to the Board of Regents in June,” she wrote.

Mike Boulus, leader of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan – the body that represents the presidents of Michigan’s public universities – told the Associated Press that a tuition freeze without increased state funding would be “a tough pill to swallow.”

“We’re being cautious right now,” he said. “We would have to hear more about the details.”

Last year, Granholm asked state universities to limit tuition increases to the rate of inflation — then 2.3 percent. In exchange, Granholm had planned to increase state funding to the universities by 3 percent, but the legislature reduced the increase to 1 percent.

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 7 percent tuition increase.

Granholm’s entire plan will become public next week when she submits her budget proposal to the state legislature.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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