By limiting the amount it increased tuition, the University is being rewarded $1.1 million in additional state funding, the third highest of the state’s 15 public universities.
Each of Michigan’s public universities received funding for preventing tuition increases as part of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s restructured higher education budget formula. The policy rewards public universities that adhere to performance standards and tuition restraints that keep annual increases below 4 percent. The smaller the increase in tuition from the previous academic year, the larger the funding allocation becomes.
Earlier this month in a memorandum released by the State House Fiscal Agency — a nonpartisan group that provides fiscal advice to the state House — explained how the breakdown of the $9.1 million set aside by the state for the tuition restraint funding would be rewarded.
Central Michigan University received the highest amount of state funding, accruing $1.8 million for raising tuition by 2 percent, the smallest margin of the 15 schools. Ferris State University came in second at $1.3 million, a Detroit Free Press article reported.
According to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, the funding was not unexpected. In order to keep tuition increases for the 2012-2013 academic year minimal — at 2.8 percent for in-state students and 3.5 percent for out-of-state students — Fitzgerald said the University has focused on more efficient spending over the past decade.
He emphasized cost saving measures, such as energy efficiency and smart purchases, in assisting the University to better manage funds. In 2003, the University embarked on the first phase of a cost-containment program that saved $135 million. In it’s second phase, the program is expected to save an additional $100 million, and with the third phase ending in fiscal year 2017, the total savings are expected to be $355 million.
“Cost cutting is simply a part of the budgeting process,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald also noted that financial aid has been increasing at almost double the rate of tuition to accommodate for rising rates.
“We know lots of Michigan families are struggling financially,” he said.
Financial aid increased by 10.1 percent for the 2012-2013 academic year, to accommodate for rising tuition rates. At the University’s Board of Regents meeting in June, University President Mary Sue Coleman said the administration has been dedicated to providing aid to struggling families.
“For four straight years now, we have presented a financial aid budget that covers the full increase in tuition for our neediest students,” Coleman said. “This year’s increase in financial aid will come in the form of grants, not loans, which helps reduce (the) student debt burden.”
Though the University will receive 2 percent more in-state aid than last year, it comes on the heels of a 15-percent cut to higher education in 2011. State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) said its critical that universities in Michigan continue to see a greater increase in state aid.
“University support in Michigan is a downward trend. Rather than diminishing support, we should be increasing it,” Irwin said.
According to Irwin, ideological battles in the Michigan House of Representatives mirror the struggles fought at the national level, noting that he believes Republicans have made it clear that education is their lowest priority.
“It impairs the academic freedom of colleges and universities and diminishes their value to our communities. That’s a big mistake,” Irwin said. “Those kinds of attacks on the economics of the University — all that will stop if Democrats take control of the House.”