Board of Trustees to vote on tuition freeze

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

Many Michigan families are experiencing financial hardships because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

In response to those hardships, Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz will propose a fall 2020 tuition freeze to the Board of Trustees to approve.

“We’re very much aware that many Michigan families are experiencing economic hardships at this time,” Pescovitz said. “We are empathic about that and sympathetic to their needs. We want them to be able to plan now, and we are aware about the fact they are making difficult financial decisions.”

The Board of Trustees will vote on Monday, June 15 whether to freeze tuition for the fall semester only, but Pescovitz expressed faith it will pass.

“I don’t know for sure — but I’ve already spoken about it to board members and told them my reasoning for it and I think it will be supported,” Pescovitz said.

The tuition freeze will attempt to aid students in need of a break, after many employees across the state were furloughed or let go.

Typically, the university will raise tuition each year, making the freeze in tuition an atypical decision for university administration. Last year, the university approved a 4.4% tuition increase.

Pescovitz and her cabinet decided on a freeze because while students are taking financial losses from COVID-19, the university is too.

“It’s a question of balancing our students’ needs, our students’ families needs and the university’s needs,” she said. “But the primary factor is trying to help in any way we can, while balancing all of the needs.”

The university was granted almost $7 million from the government to disperse to students as part of the CARES Act.

“I predict that this year we will have even more financial aid support for students,” Pescovitz said. “We’re already starting to distribute some of that money to students — those are only Pell [grant] and Pell eligible students. Many students have already received funds from that.”

On average, each OU student gets one-third of their tuition covered from financial aid packages. The freeze is an effort to keep that statistic accurate.

Pescovitz acknowledged there are many reasons why a prospective student might choose a different university to attend, but she would be disappointed to have someone not attend OU for financial reasons.

“That is a top priority for us — to help support students” she said. “So that no student is able to say, ‘the reason I can’t go to Oakland is for financial reasons.’”