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Posted on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

State funding cut for universities could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU

By David Jesse


Students study on the University of Michigan campus in this file photo. Concerns are being raised that Gov. Rick Snyder's budget proposal could lead to increases in tuition for students at Michigan's universities.

Tara Mallington came to Eastern Michigan University on Thursday morning to meet a friend for lunch.

Mallington, a high school senior, isn’t sure where she’ll attend college next year, but she knows she'll pay more for her first year of school than her friend did her first year at Eastern.

“I think colleges are going to have to jack up tuition,” she said after hearing of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal to cut higher education funding by 15 percent. “They’re going to have to. It’s going to suck. I might have to live at home because of the cost.”

Students aren’t the only ones predicting higher tuition rates because of the cuts outlined Thursday. 

EMU President Susan Martin expressed concern that the university might have to go that route to make up nearly $15 million it's going to lose under the plan.

“We’ll strive to keep it as low as possible,” she said. Last year, EMU implemented a "0, 0, 0" campaign, which froze tuition, room and board, and fees for students.

EMU Regent Jim Stapleton, chairman of the finance committee, affirmed those words.

Anyone who knows Gov. Synder, and I do, knows today's decisions were difficult for him to announce," Stapleton said Thursday. "But our state can no longer spend what it doesn't have. From our perspective at EMU, we are proud to have been the champion of affordable quality education for working families with last year's zero, zero, zero campaign, and we will do our best to tighten our own fiscal belts to make today's news as painless as possible for students."

Tightening will be hard, Martin said.

“This is significant,” Martin said. “We will work on it. Overall, I was disappointed in the size of the cut. It’s very difficult to handle with what we’ve been trying to do in investing in our academic quality and our facilities."

University of Michigan officials echoed Martin’s concerns.

“There’s no denying that this is painful,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said, noting that the university is continuing to work with the governor and legislature to stress the importance of higher education in turning Michigan’s economy around.

That was also the theme of University Research Corridor Executive Director Jeff Mason’s statement.

“Four years ago, when the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University formed a partnership called the University Research Corridor, we set out to leverage our expertise and resources to transform the state's economy,” he said. “While the three URC institutions generate more than $400 million in state tax revenue and represent a powerhouse of research on par with the best of the nation's similar ‘clusters of innovation,’ we believe strongly that robust investment in all of Michigan's public universities — and through that, our students — is key to the state's future economic prosperity.

“We believe that as the state's finances stabilize, our state leadership will recognize the critical importance of investing in higher education.”

Cynthia Wilbanks, U-M’s vice president for governmental relations, said a 15 percent decline would lower the state aid to U-M to approximately $268 million — which would “be the lowest amount of appropriation in 20 years.”

She said U-M has seen this day coming and has been working over the past several years to trim its budget. She said it was too early to make any predictions about tuition rate increases.

A loss of state funding isn’t the only possible loss for the universities in Snyder’s plan. His proposal would also take away a tax credit for those individual who donate to universities.

EMU uses that incentive with its recent graduates as a way of helping them establish life-long giving habits, Martin said.

Without it, those soliciting funds for the university will have to use other incentives to help get the gifts the university needs, she said.

David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Here is a news flash: Tuition was going to increase no matter what happened to funding from the state. Universities have no incentive to reduce prices as long as suckers will keep paying whatever they charge. Blaming state funding cuts for tuition increases is like blaming crime on the phase of the moon.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

True. I think the real fear is that tuition hikes will be much larger than normally expected.


Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

Reading "The Toledo War", Don Faber remarks on the Michigan strategy to attract educated people to the state. Stevens T. Mason was appointed Territorial Secretary at age 20 and Lewis Cass was Territorial Governor. Together, they laid the foundation for the State of Michigan with Ann Arbor and UM serving as host to the constitutional convention. In the 20th century, the auto industry attracted legions of hard working people willing to support public education. UM is world class. Now Michigan is unwilling to raise adequate revenues for education. It allocates a huge proportion of it's revenues to incarcerate people. This was Engler's vision of the state. The number of people in prison doubled during his administration while the population stagnated. Now the anti-elite have a firm hold on the government from the top down. Snyder's reinventing Michigan means more of the same. He talked about keeping graduates in Michigan. It's more likely high school students are now looking to move to other states. Being run like a business means you get what you can out of your workers with the least investment in their well being and future good fortune. Now we know that means: make education so expensive that only ignorant people live here working for minimum wage and joyfully paying taxes to keep miscreants locked up.


Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

Tuition increase is nothing new. So how much increase next year??


Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

Tuition will go up only because the Michigan public University system does not have a mandate to delivery affordable education or cut costs. Universities are institutions that are interested in serving their own interests, not the public. Outrageous salaries, Taj Mahal buildings, lucrative licensing agreements and patents that make the faculty rich, expensive sports stadiums ... Worry about the students. Blaa. Who cares, they can take loans. Only when the public speaks out and demands cost reforms will things change. Here is my challenge to all Michigan Universities. CUT COSTS FOR AN EDUCATION 5% A YEAR every year FOR 10 YEARS to that the cost of education is 1/2 in a decade. It can be done by a) eliminating book purchasing and develop University electronic notes for tuition paying students b) eliminate all non degree related fees (student fees, sports facilities, bus passes, etc). Make them pay as you go c) hold the athletic department accountable to deliver a defined revenue stream to offset tuition (not the general fund). Have this appear as a line item on each tuition statement d) make all research self funding. Tuition should not subsidize research. e) pay Professors only for teaching classes. Research should be paid by grants and industrial funding. Actually, stop hiring $175K/yr Profs to teach classes. Hire $75K/year lecturers. They can do a better job and are more motivated than Profs busying trying make money on Patents funded by taxpayers f) stop building Taj Mahals and so on, and so on, and so on. Things will change only if the Michigan public becomes vocal about it!


Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

I'm in agreement with N/A assessment of EMU's 0-0-0- campaign being misleading and over hyped. Last year I wrote a letter to Susan Martin, EMU president, requesting an itemized and detailed explanation of the $1400 in miscellaneous fees that appeared on my daughter's fall tuition bill. The bigger problem with the public universities is that they aren't accountable to anyone and when money is tight they just raise tuition and tack on as many miscellaneous fees that they can dream up.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

I am a long-time resident of the area, and a parent of a current U of M student. I truly love the University, but given the dire economic conditions in Michigan it should come as no surprise the State would have to cut funding. When I drive around the campus and look at the number of multi-million dollar projects that are underway (or scheduled), I can't help but think the 15-million dollar shortfall can be found in these projects first! I hope U of M will do an honest and thorough assessment of internal costs (projects, salaries, healthcare, pensions, etc), before asking me to pay ONE extra dollar via tuition increases.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

I'm a student at EMU right now and while I'm not all that disappointed that Snyder wants to cut funding, I am disheartened that the response from these schools is likely going to be to increase tuition instead of figuring out what they can cut from their own budgets. I think Snyder's absolutely right that we need to cut spending we can't afford, painful as it may be. (I'm not sure I agree with his entire budget, or the fact that prisons are better funded than higher education, but that's another discussion.) Schools these days seem to be focused more on amenities than necessities. They should cut the funding for the clubs, cafes, non-essential programs, etc. and focus on teaching college-level classes and teaching them well. I'm actually appalled by how low the bar is set for students these days. Some of my classmates can barely write. Many don't seem to understand what plagiarism is, and critical thought is evidently regarded as optional, even at a graduate level. I'm not really surprised by this, given that in my undergrad at UM I had some classmates who couldn't even pronounce relatively easy words they encountered in textbooks, let alone understand them. This focus on self-esteem and self-discovery at the expense of learning to read, write, speak, and spell isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm positive that all of these schools could still deliver a high quality learning experience that prepares students for their future careers on a smaller budget -- they'll just have to give up the desire to want to be all things to all students for a while.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

Silly Sally is right on. Fancier facilities. More course offerings. I attended the University of Illinois in the early 1960's. Tuition and fees were something like $180 per semester. Probably same at U of M. Worked part time during the school year, full time during the summer. Lived at home. I actually had money in the bank on graduation.

Silly Sally

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

@johnnya - Think about how many companies will decide to avoid Michigan when they see how high the taxes are to support such a "utopia". Yes, a "game changer" as Jennifer Granholm said we'd be "blown away" in a few years.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Yes, the world of 1960 is pretty close to the world of today. Tell me how many of the classes you took in the 60's are usable in todays work force? Did your research papers require internet in 1960? Are you using the same clothes, the same car, the same anything you did in the 60's? If the state of Michigan wants to attract younger people and incentivize companies to locate here I can make it happen almost immediately. All residents and/ or children of residents and employees of the state of Michigan are entitled to a free 4 year degree at the University of their choice that they have the ability to qualify for. Two, all employees and families of those employees are entitled to free single payer health care. Imagine how many young families would come to Michigan knowing they would receive an education for their family at no cost. Imagine how many companies would relocate to Michigan without the largest growing expense for labor being health care. It is a game changer and brings an educated younger work force to the state.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Instead of raise tuitions, which would cause less out of state students to come here (causing less state revenue), we should cut university employee pay/spending because it has been bloated for the past ten years.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

"When was the last time tuition went down?" Probably the same time that state funding of universities went up. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

Public or private? They are both up at about the same rate.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

"State funding cut for universities could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU" Then again: Keeping the same level of funding could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU Incresed funding could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU The economy getting worse could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU The economy gettting better could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU The Lions having 6 wins could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU Unrest in Egypt could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU A Republican as governor could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU A Democrat as governor could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU The start of spring training could lead to tuition increases for students at U-M, EMU When was the last time tuition went down?


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

The U of M has a caste system - the lofty salaried folks do make a very fine living...not to mention the travel and lecture tour lifestyles. Yes they did attend college for more than the standard 4 years, but the norm in the real world has changed and it has yet to hit within the protected walls of the public universities. Let's face it, U of M is a profit center, time to start utilizing that profit for operations instead of ingratiating the wealthy upper caste. MSC is the CEO...perhaps she might have to make some real hard decisions and talk about cuts to the upper caste instead of tapping the China connection for students and professors.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

as you mention, it's a caste system. Being such, what makes you think that those cuts will be absorbed by the upper elites? Like usual, it will flow downhill to the people who can least afford it in pay-cuts, hiring freezes, and as seen recently, reductions in benefits. The rich will not be hurt by this. Be it at the university or outside. Gov. Snyder has protected his constituents well.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Send your tuition bills to the Gov. Synder! Be sure to include a note pointing out the increase cost, money that could be spend to stimulate the Michigan economy but now is going to pay for higher tuition.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Yes, tuition and housing costs at U-M will probably go up. However, will any of the people in the Administrations take a pay cut? I somehow doubt that all the fat cats earning over $250,000.00 per annum, and there are a lot of them, would voluntarily take a pay cut, given the circumstances the University finances are in.

Christopher LeClair

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

Clearly, the only proper way to rein in our state's budget is to cut funding from our future generations. It's not as if education helps to better a society or anything.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

I don't understand why they want to take a tax credit away from people donating to the universities. If you want to get people to give to universities and increase their endowment, which reduces how much money they depend on the state for, that's one of the biggest tools out there.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

EMU's 0-0-0 campaign is over hyped and misleading. My tuition this semester was pretty low, but there were over $1000 in "fees", and almost all of these fees have vague names. In my career at EMU they have tried to milk me for money at every opportunity and with these cuts I feel very bad for future students. As someone who is about to graduate the teaching program, I can say that I will be leaving this state as soon as humanly possible.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

You can spend money on prisons, with little return on investment or spend money on higher education, with a terrific return on investment. Our governor has chosen prisons as the higher priority. "The Governor's proposed [Corrections] budget for fiscal year 2012 recommends total funding of $2.0 billion, of which $1.9 billion is general fund. The Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 recommends total funding of $2.1 billion, of which $2.0 billion is general fund." "The Governor's proposed [higher education] budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 recommends total funding of nearly $1.4 billion, of which $1.3 billion is state funds." Incredibly, the budget for the Department of Corrections increases while the budget for higher education decreases. Michigan is one of only a few states that actually spend more on prisons than higher education. In terms of percent of population in jail or prison, Michigan has the highest incarceration rate of any Great Lakes region state. Like the rest of the U.S., Michigan's incarceration rate is about 6 times the average world rate and 7 times the rate in Canada or Australia. A primary reason for the high incarceration rate is long minimum sentences. There's no correlation between long sentences and recidivism. The criminal with a 2 year sentence is just as likely to commit another crime when leaving prison as a criminal with a 5 year sentence. It costs about $34,000 a year to imprison a criminal in Michigan and the vast majority of criminals are in prison for non-violent crimes. A solution to both our out of control prison expenses and our incredibly high college tuition rates is simple: reduce minimum prison sentencing!


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

The for-profit prison industrial complex has been in opposition of government spending on education for years. It is not in their best interest to have a well-educated population. If that were to happen, who would they depend on to fill their cells? Many years ago the City of Jackson had an opportunity to build a university there. Instead they went with a prison. We've seen how well that turned out. Us here in Ann Arbor have been benefiting from that decision ever since.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

Many of these long determinate sentences are for drugs selling. Most of the others are for people committing crimes to feed drug habits. All of this has been confirmed by criminological studies done in this state. Maybe some of the correctons money should go to rehab. And decriminalize marijuana, too. We have people spending 20 years in Jackson for selling it and we just made it legal to sell. Let those cats free to start legal businesses and hire some of the unemployed.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Silly Sally, you might want to consider why people commit crimes in the first place. Rather than focus on penalizing people, how about we work on the root cause of crime, unemployment and lack of opportunities for people.

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

"Incredibly, the budget for the Department of Corrections increases while the budget for higher education decreases." Bloody Well Right! At least when criminals are in prison, they cannot prey on the rest of society. Instead of giving more to corrections to spend on housing inmates, I would rather spend the money on parole officers, so their caseloads drops from 200 ex-cons to perhaps 30 or 40. This way, they can spend 20 minutes with each convict twice a week, and the remainder hunting down those who abscond. Many ex-cons need close supervision, and if they have no job, one needs to ask where they are getting money from . I do agree that putting people in prison is not always the best punishment, sometimes a very closely watched probation system will work, Example, drunk drivers could spend every weekend doing community service and have twice weekly random drug tests. This is more effective and cheaper for taxpayers. But we need many more parole officers to accomplish this.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Also from "The University of Michigan Board of Regents today approved a $56 million renovation for Alice Crocker Lloyd Hall, which houses about 560 students. The project will update infrastructure in 176,000 square-foot residence hall, including new plumbing, heating, cooling ventilation and suppression systems; wired and wireless high-speed network access; renovated bath facilities and accessibility improvement. A dance practice and multipurpose space; an art studio, music practice rooms and other learning areas will be created. The funding will come from the housing department's resources." Just the sort of thing to help our UM students remain competitive in the global marketplace. CUT, RICK, CUT!!!!


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Yes those luxuries that the student of the 21st century needs like updated plumbing (let them use an outhouse to save money), heating and cooling (buy a blanket or fan you whiners), suppression systems (fires rarely happen, why spend money on a luxury like that), high speed internet (do like they did in the 50's do all yoru work in a library, it will prepare you for the real world, since no job requires you to use the internet) dance practice and recital rooms (you dance art and music majors should practice in your own room. These are actual things that have been put off because the state has failed to have a long range plan on funding infrastructure for the U, and most other items., Proof number one is the stadium bridge. Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country because we think cutting is the way to win. No state or country has ever saved their way to the top. They invest for the long term growth and future of their citizens.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

1) You do realize the University of Michigan does offer degrees in Art and Music? Those student pay their tuition, what's wrong with creating a learning environment for them to use at the dorms. 2) The total cost, as cited by you, is $56 million. I don't know first hand, but I would bet my lunch, that the majority of that will be spent to pay for " ... new plumbing, heating, cooling ventilation and suppression systems; wired and wireless ... access; renovated bath facilities and accessibility improvement." Or in layman's terms: Bring Lloyd Hall into the 21st Century.

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

Just what I said earlier, fancy dorms... Thanks for the specifics. Art studios and dance practice rooms in the dorms? What is next, a masseuse room? Exercise rooms with treadmills in dorms so students will not have to walk to the CCRB?


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

Gosh maybe the UM will stop paying the $182 K salary to Ken Magee for working at the antique store.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

EyeHeart2, LOL, sorry.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

Crap! I wish I would have thought of that first!

Jim Mulchay

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Here is the opportunity! There is a lot a talk about how the state of Michigan needs to produce a better educated workforce. The college-level institutions in Michigan (public, private, secular, religious) now have the opportunity to retain (or reduce) current costs of education (tuition, room board, books, fees, etc.) so that the families in Michigan can obtain higher-education for their children (or for adults trying to advance/retrain themselves). Or - the same institutions can find ways to raise their own incomes and expect some magic fountain of money (from Washington?, from Lansing?, from Google or Microsoft?, college loan programs?) to appear so that Michigan's youth can afford a college eduction in the state of Michigan.

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

"There is a lot a talk about how the state of Michigan needs to produce a better educated workforce." Treu, but we need to have jobs for these graduates even more, or they leave, after being educated at taxpayer expense.

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

College tuition has been rising at a rate that is much higher than inflation for decades. Besides tuition, dorm fees have risen a lot. Dorms are much more luxurious than they were 15 or 20 years ago, especially the newer dorms at UM. I am amazed at the food that is included in meal plans. Finally, there are many extracurricular activities and events that all have real costs that are unfortunately passed on by dorm or tuition increases. There is less incentive for administrations to control costs since many students borrow or get scholarship money, Just like health insurance, many students are shielded from the increases. This allows the administrations to more easily jack up rates. They then feel that they must subsidize poorer students by charging even higher tuition from more wealthy students, raising rates even further. If the administrations would focus more on asking, "is this expense really necessary?" instead of "how much should we increase tuition?", costs would be contained. With all of this said, if the state lower its subsidy, then much of that shortfall will have to be passed on. .


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

So, um, that would expain why tutition at private universities is going up at a rate roughly equal to public schools?


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

"College tuition has been rising at a rate that is much higher than inflation for decades." The primary reason college tuition has been rising for decades is that 25 years ago taxpayers paid 75% of instruction cost. Today it's 25% and still decreasing.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

very well said. very true.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

"There's no denying that this is painful," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said, noting that the university is continuing to work with the governor and legislature to stress the importance of higher education in turning Michigan's economy around." Why, did someone whisper maybe SHE could give up a little of her huge salary?