EMU president Susan Martin to legislators: Don't penalize us for tuition restraint
Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin told legislators Wednesday that under a proposal from Gov. Rick Snyder, EMU is being penalized instead of rewarded for its efforts over the past three years to hold down tuition increases.
In prepared remarks, Martin told the Michigan House Education Appropriations Subcommittee that EMU has been a leader among the state’s universities in voluntarily keeping tuition increases to a minimum.
“Eastern's voluntary restraint has increased undergraduate tuition by only 2.47% per year, or just $20 per credit hour, over three years,” Martin said. “The overall cost increase for Eastern students over the three-year period is approximately $1,000 less than the average increase at the other Michigan universities.”
Martin said the governor proposed four metrics for awarding funds: $17,192 for each additional undergraduate degree the school awards above its three-year average; $685 per degree in certain critical skill fields, based on a three-year average; $155 per undergraduate Pell grant recipient, based on a three-year average; and a certain amount of money if the university increases tuition by no more than 4 percent next year.
“Eastern finds it puzzling that the first three measures use an average from the past three years, yet the fourth measure - addressing tuition restraint - does not,” Martin said.
Under the first three metrics, EMU would get about $66 million for fiscal year 2013, a 2.3 percent increase over this year. The amount allocated under the fourth metric would not be determined until tuition is set for next year.
Martin also touted EMU’s efforts to increase financial aid for students in the face of budget cuts from the state. Particularly challenging was a 15 percent reduction in funding for the current fiscal year. She said Eastern has more than doubled financial aid over the past seven years.
She also pointed to new initiatives at EMU to prepare students for 21st century careers, including the Information Assurance program, which prepares students for careers in cyber security and a new master's degree program for physician's assistants. And she noted Eastern’s participation in project Lead The Way, which trains middle- and high-school teachers to teach a rigorous science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum in Michigan schools.
Earlier this week, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, lambasted the governor's formula before a group of faculty members.
With a six-year graduation rate of 89.7 percent —a rate that's already one of the highest in the country and not likely to significantly improve,— the lowest rate of Pell Grants at any university in the state and an average yearly tuition increase of 5.5 percent over the past 10 years, U-M doesn't fare well under Snyder's formula.
In closing Wednesday, Martin also challenged legislators to invest in Michigan’s public universities, from which she noted about 75 percent of legislators had earned their degrees.
“Protect this asset, enhance it, and preserve it,” she said. “Don't let us continue to be noted as one of only two States in the nation along with Alabama that lose Federal funds for failing to maintain support for higher education. Turn the tide. As a member of this subcommittee, what will be your personal legacy to strengthen higher education?”