BY BETHANY BIRON
Managing News Editor
Published June 19, 2012
The University’s Board of Regents will convene for their monthly meeting this Thursday to approve tuition rates for the 2012-2013 academic year, coming on the heels of a proposed state budget calling for increased funding for higher education.
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However, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed 3.1-percent increase in higher education funding comes with a caveat in the form of adherence to a formula-based funding system that will determine the individual allocations to each university.
Snyder’s program is based on a series of stipulations designed to heighten educational performance at the state’s 15 public universities and provides varying levels of funding to schools depending on formula rankings.
Specifically, the funding model examines the number of total degrees awarded to undergraduates — with an emphasis on the sciences — as well as the number of students receiving Pell Grants and a college’s adherence to tuition restraints and guidelines.
In his budget proposal, Snyder explained that universities capable of preventing tuition increases will be rewarded. If the University is successful in stifling tuition rates, it will receive a 1.4-percent increase in funding — tied with Michigan State University for the second-lowest potential funding increase of the state’s 15 public universities, after Wayne State University.
“Universities that better constrain tuition and fee increases will receive greater funding,” the proposal stated. “Tuition restraint funding will be allocated to qualifying universities once all institutions have set their academic year 2012-13 tuition rates.”
Despite the state’s efforts to increase funding to higher education this year, University President Mary Sue Coleman has been openly critical of the formula funding program, expressing her hesitations in a testimony to the state House Higher Education Appropriation Subcommittee in Lansing last March.
Coleman and University Provost Philip Hanlon both said efforts to improve the performance of an already well-performing school to accrue additional money will be challenging.
“The metrics compare the state’s universities against each other, rather than against their Carnegie classification peers,” Coleman said.
Last year, the board approved a 6.7-percent tuition increase for in-state students and a 4.9-percent increase for out of state students, amounting to $797 and $1,781 boosts, respectively. The 6-2 vote also included a $44-million cut to the University’s budget in an attempt to mend the $47.5-million debt amassed, which was due to the state’s 15-percent cut to higher education for the 2012 fiscal year.
To accommodate the increase in tuition rates, the regents voted on a 10.9-percent hike in need-based financial aid, totaling $137 million. At last year’s meeting, Coleman lauded the University’s ability to provide aid and increase college accessibility for struggling families.
“These extraordinary amounts of support mean that a typical Michigan resident undergraduate, with a family income of less than $80,000, pays less today … than in 2004,” Coleman said last June.
The plan was opposed by Regents Laurence Deitch (D–Bingham Farms) and Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms), who expressed fear that increased tuition, paired with vast budget slashes, would lead toward “a shift to privatization,” according to Deitch last June.
Thursday, the board will also set tuition rates for the University’s Flint and Dearborn campuses, as well as residence hall rates and fee allocations for the Central Student Government, Student Legal Services and the University Health Service.