Hynd discusses tuition increase in Lansing, stands by raise

Last Thursday, Sept. 24, President Hynd met with members of the Joint Subcommittee on Higher Education in Lansing to discuss the recent tuition increase.

Last Thursday, Sept. 24, President Hynd met with members of the Joint Subcommittee on Higher Education in Lansing to discuss the recent tuition increase.

Hynd was summoned because Oakland University recently saw a tuition increase of 8.48 percent over the summer, which violated the state increase cap that universities must remain under in order to receive state funding.

As part of the hearing, Hynd presented the reasons why he feels such a sharp tuition increase is necessary for OU at this point.

Hynd made it clear when addressing the subcommittee that the increase was in no small part due to the state’s low amount of funding.

According to a HEIDI and House Fiscal Agency report, OU received the least amount of state funding per student in the 2015 fiscal year out of the 15 public universities in Michigan.

This is compounded by the fact the OU has seen the highest five- and 10-year enrollment growth among the same group of schools, according to the Presidents Council Enrollment Report in the fall of 2014.

Hynd argued that the only way to accommodate for the student growth seen in recent years was to rely on internal revenue for funding instead of that provided by the state.

When giving his presentation to the committee, Hynd referenced many of the points of Oakland’s new strategic plan that will be made possible by revenue as a result of the tuition increase.

One of the main pillars of this plan is student growth and the role of OU as a “student-centered” university. The idea of a tuition increase being made in the interest of becoming more student-centered is one that has seen scrutiny by many students since this summer.

But what many who critique the tuition raise do not realize is that the funding will go toward benefitting students in various ways as well.

Financial aid programs such as scholarships and grants will be receiving an increased budget by 11.7 percent. In addition to competitive and merit-based awards, this also includes funding for the economic hardship fund and need-based scholarships as well.

In effect, the funding that students are paying into now will allow opportunities for more students to attend OU.

Also among the list of increased benefits that the raise offers to students is the addition of eleven new faculty members, four new advisors, two new health center psychologists, and multiple building expansions.

Hynd also mentioned in his presentation the subject of differential tuition rates. This is a system that was passed with the tuition increase in July. Under this principle, students enrolled in the schools of Engineering and Computer Science, Business Administration, Health Science, and Nursing will pay varying rates of tuition.

Hynd explained that the justification for each school’s distribution of tuition is based upon statistics on the average earnings of graduates from those schools.

In the example of the School of Business Administration, lower level students were ranked 11th in terms of tuition rates when compared to other schools in the state. However, with the tuition increase, that raking rises to 5th.

Despite the increase, Hynd refers to the cost of enrolling in the schools that have differential rates as “competitive.”

Another large point that Hynd referred to is the fact that OU is the only “fee free” school in the state. By this, he means that costs such as parking, sporting events and program fees, among others, are of no additional cost at Oakland. In contrast, every other university adds onto the advertised cost of tuition.