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Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

University of Michigan student group rallies for tuition freeze

By Katrease Stafford

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The Student Union of Michigan organized a rally seeking a tuition freeze for the next school year.

Katrease Stafford | AnnArbor.com

Nearly 40 University of Michigan students gathered at the Diag Thursday to rally support in asking the administration to freeze tuition next year.

The students cited rising tuition costs and increasing student loan rates as a reason the U-M administration should take the step toward freezing tuition.

Student Union of Michigan organizer Martin Vega said during the rally that he expected the university to be a "generator of accessibility" for students from all different backgrounds, but he has been disappointed.

The students planned on delivering a letter directly to President Mary Sue Coleman's office stating that tuition should be frozen. The roughly 300-member group is hopeful the administration will respond and said its next step will be to push forward with the effort. The group was formed to "confront the tough realities" of rising student debt.

"Five years in, it (the university) has failed its public mission," Vega said. "We need to stop this now."

AnnArbor.com reported in June that U-M raised its resident undergraduate tuition and fees 2.8 percent for this academic year. This was the second-lowest tuition increase in a decade for the university.

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About 40 students marched from the Diag to the president's office.

Katrease Stafford | AnnArbor.com

Freshman and sophomore students will pay nearly $13,000 per year in tuition and fees. The hike adds an additional $360 per year for most students.

Resident tuition at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business increased 4.7 percent for underclassmen and 6.2 percent for upperclassmen.

Tuition for non-residents also increased, rising by 3.5 percent.

U-M Lecturer within the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design Beth Hay came out to support the students on behalf of the Lecturers' Employee Organization.

"I support these students efforts toward tuition equality," Hay said. "I'm here to represent the lecturers that support this."

Student Union of Michigan has been organizing since the start of the fall 2012 semester in an effort to get a tuition freeze.

"This is important because it concerns our futures," Vega said. "It concerns our ability to make a living and to help our families in the future."

Vega said that both undergraduate and graduate tuition rates are "way too high," and it places students in a position where they are choosing between paying their debt and life necessities.

"The average student graduates with $27,000 in debt," Vega said. "That ends up being around $50,000 when you include interest. That means that coming out of a university, a student is going to have to choose between paying their debt or buying a car. Paying their debt or buying a house."

The experience of a struggling former student post graduation hits home with Vega, whose girlfriend graduated from the university in 2010. Vega said his girlfriend is now working a retail job at a mall as an assistant manager. She has $20,000 in debt from two semesters.

"We're sending a message to the president that debt is too high, executive pay is too high and students deserve a voice as to how the university has been run."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for AnnArbor.com.Reach her at katreasestafford@annarbor.com or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.

Comments

TopCat08

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Katrease- Where are you getting these tuition numbers? It does not cost an in state student $13,000 per semester for tuition. You are either: a) quoting the cost for a full year meaning you misread A2.com's own article regarding the tuition increase or b) including the cost for room and board as a part of your number... While I would agree if you wanted to argue that room and board matter in that they are costs that students/families must bear and many times borrow for, it is completely misleading to write an entire story about the cost of tuition and then include costs that aren't tuition... and for a majority of students, not charged by the U.

Katrease Stafford

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Top Cat, Instead of per semester, it should have said per year. It's been corrected. The actual amount for tuition and fees per year for undergraduate freshmen/sophomore students is $12,994.

DH

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Come on people. Please be educated before you post. Over the past decade, state funding has dropped over 50%! In FY 2012 alone the University was cut a historic $47.5 million. In that same decade, U-M cut $235 million from the General Fund (where state funding and tuition dollars go to pay for the academic mission) from the budget. Even in light of a small FY2013 1.6% increase in state funding, the plans are to continue cuts for the next five years to the tune of another $120 million. Are you hearing this, Tom? Is that sincere enough? And Goober, the cuts have included cuts in benefits. They were awesome before, especially in the area of retiree health care, but are now leveling out with the market. Mike is right. If you have a problem with the cost of a burger at Red Robin, then GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! McDonalds is cheaper, but there is something different in the quality, wouldn't you agree? The market has and will continue to drive the value of any product, including education. It is simple economics is a free market. For the students who are protesting, good for you. It is a reminder of another great tenet of our country. For Tom, I hope you didn't waste any more than a semester with those purported horrible professors and that another student who wanted a chance to get a U-M degree was able to take your spot. If you did stay and graduate, then your argument is totally invalid and you are obviously book smart and life stupid. For your reference and further education, see http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/budget/

Stephen Landes

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Students: get a life. If you want a steak, but can afford only a hamburger yet go to the steak restaurant who is the idiot? If Michigan is too expensive for you then you need to go somewhere else. Consider this step 1 in your education.

Goober

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

A tuition freeze will never happen as long as UM has more applicants than those accepted. You know - Mary Sue and the professors need the wage increases. In fact, they have no desire or intent of trying to help make higher education more affordable to the masses. Most colleges have this same drive - maximize their wages and benefits until applicants drop off. Then they know they have reached a temporary limit of what new students and their families are willing or can pay.

Mike

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

The same people that go there and pay the outrageous tuition are now protesting it? The best way is to not go there......they'll get the message.............

Tom

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

The U will not get any more contributions from me until I see that they are sincere in controlling these increases. I'd prefer to see CUTs, and not the kind they talk about in Washington where a cut means a CUT in the growth of spending, but actually reductions in tuition. Stop the madness in putting up new buildings and staffing levels. Eliminate some USELESS degee programs and focus on the stuff that results in productive graduates with degrees that are in demand and where theses kids have a chance to actually pay off their loans. May Sue may be worth the salary she is getting but where is the leadership from her in the school whose motto is Leaders and Best? BTW, most Profs that I had at Michigan couldn't teach if their lives depended on it which makes the tuition equation even more distorted.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

Universities including UM have done a terrible job controlling their costs and so tuition goes up and up. Obama and his left-wing Democrat friends hand out more and more financial aid and student loans but does that help at all? No of course not since it tells administrators at Universities that they need not worry much about cost control--just pass on the extra costs to students and their parents. The Free Lunch program does not work here as well as anywhere else. Expect college costs to continue to skyrocket.

Mick52

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

How come they aren't protesting at the White House? Demand a subsidy.

Goober

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Our society can afford this? Oh, that's right. I believe most socialistic societies pay for higher education. Too much welfare being paid out now. I remember that in the not too distant past, students rioting in England when the amount of education funds being paid was lowered due to increasing debt.

xmo

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

This is really going to make Mary Sue take notice? 40 students out of 40,000? "We're sending a message to the president that debt is too high, executive pay is too high and students deserve a voice as to how the university has been run."