In today’s recovering economy, it is arguable that a college degree is worth more than ever, and in Michigan, and so is its price.
This summer, the state’s 15 public colleges and universities settled upon their tuition prices for the 2011-12 school year. Almost all raised their cost by nearly seven percent.
Michigan State University trustees voted to raise tuition costs by 6.8 percent for resident undergraduates, which translates to a nearly $800 increase for full-time students. The University of Michigan approved a 6.7 percent increase for in-state undergraduates and Oakland University approved a seven percent tuition increase.
The tuition hike for OU raised prices $22.75 per credit hour for undergraduates and $33.75 per credit hour for graduate students.
OU’s state funding was cut by 15 percent, which amounts to $6.7 million, and operational costs, such as contract obligations, increased by 3.8 percent.
As prices rose, state funding was cut. Gov. Rick Snyder released a budget that required “tough” cuts, including millions in higher education, to reduce a $1.5 billion deficit.
The proposed budget for Michigan public colleges and universities was released in March 2011. Snyder told lawmakers there would be an 15 percent across-the-board funding cut to the state’s universities, but cuts ranged from up to 23 percent at Central Michigan University to 19 percent at Eastern Michigan University.
Plummeting tax revenues have forced a shift in how a public university education is funded. Once contributing 75 percent of university revenues, the state’s share is now below one-quarter.
Fears over affordability of higher education prompted Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, to write a letter to President Barack Obama. She wrote of the cuts in state funding, and the state’s dismal higher education funding ranking (38th.)
Coleman wasn’t alone. In March 2011, 200 college students gathered at the capitol and waved flags from the state’s 15 public universities and held signs that said “put the money where our minds are” during a protest of proposed cuts in state funding.
With tuition bills soaring, Michigan State and Michigan Tech are among the most expensive public schools in the state.