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Posted on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

University of Michigan to levy $65 per-term student fee to pay for $173M in gym, union renovations

By Kellie Woodhouse

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the $65 student fee would be annual. The fee will actually be levied each term.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed Thursday to begin levying a $65 per term student fee so the school can fund renovations to its gyms and unions - projects that will cost an estimated $173 million.


University of Michigan's Central Campus Recreation Building.

U-M's gyms are often criticized as aged, crowded facilities with out-of-date equipment and lackluster ambiance. They're meant for use by the general student body and not funded by the athletic department.

"We want our students to be healthy, to work out," said board chair Denise Ilitch. "I am in full support of this."

Meanwhile, U-M's Michigan Union is the third-oldest student union in the nation, according to officials.

U-M students already pay an $80 registration fee, about $8.70 in student government fees and an $8.50 legal fee. Provost-elect Martha Pollack said the university has relatively few fees compared with other institutions. Resident tuition and fees at U-M are about $13,000 a year.

The fee will be included in need-based financial aid packages.

There is no set revenue stream that pays for U-M's three recreational facilities — which were constructed in 1928, 1976 and 1977 — and that would naturally fund renovations.

Not all regents agreed on the fee.

"We have many things we'd like to have. We are embarking on a campaign and we are looking at opportunities to do those thing," Regent Andrea Newman said. "I would be remiss to support a fee on students for the next 30 years without feeling that we had done everything we could to fund the unions in a different way.

"I personally am not in favor of raising mandatory fees. I think if students had a choice on whether or not they'd participate I would feel more comfortable," she continued.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Jay Thomas

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Pointing out that the Student Union is one of the oldest is irrelevant UNLESS you want to replace it entirely... and I think it really is quite a gem and worth keeping. They gut the insides and remodel the place every couple decades. That is nothing new.

Hugh Giariola

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Students are not unlimited ATMs you can tap with excess "fees." These "fees" fall outside of standard tuition, so the university cannot be penalized or criticized on paper. However, to a student or more likely a cash-strapped parent it is $65 more to spend,

Audion Man

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

In all seriousness, this strikes me as a lame continuation of the policy that has led UM to have three very dumpy recreational facilities. The gyms, especially the IM, don't need another half-hearted renovation. They need to be replaced. They gyms have been renovated ad nauseam, to little benefit. The IM was at least partially redone about ten years ago. It is still a dank catacomb. It's a pity Charlie Munger didn't pony up for recreational facilities- we could perhaps have at least one decent gym AND still have Blimpy Burger...


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 10:41 a.m.

It's unfortunate that with such a massive endowment they see the need to assess a $65 fee for something that is used by a fraction of the student body. When they renovate dorms, only the people who I've in the dorms pay for the renovations in higher housing fees. Separate the Union's costs out, charge a fee for that, and charge user fees for the rec buildings. Or use the endowment.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

Good that the University is developing a plan to maintain the recreational sport facilities. Hope someone donates money to build world class facilities.

Jay Thomas

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

Another courageous decision by Mary Sue. Don't kid yourself, the buck stops with the "CEO" despite her name ALWAYS remaining out of these kind of things.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Seems these folks have never heard of living within a budget. Of course they haven't had to as they raise prices and fees nonstop.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

$173 million is a very specific figure. I expect that architectural renditions exist which could be presented to the public.

A Voice of Reason

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

One time it would be nice for fundraising being done for students only vs. soaking them as you put $10,000,000 into the football stadium.

Audion Man

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

UM is practically perfect in every way. A new coat of paint is just what these buildings needed. (There, does that violate anything?)

Audion Man

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

This is pitiful. Soak the students with a fee, and propose yet another lame renovation? The IM is a musty dump. It has been renovated to death. If they tore down Waterman Gym, they can tear down the IM and start fresh. Renovations on these buildings is like putting lipstick on a pig. Too little too late.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

How about a user fee?


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

just what students need higher college cost!