The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents approved a 3.95 percent increase in tuition and fees beginning fall 2012 during the June 19 regular meeting at which the 2012-13 budget was adopted.
At the meeting, EMU President Susan Martin said the university’s tuition and fee increases are still the lowest among Michigan’s 15 public universities, with a four-year average of 2.85 percent. The increases for the past three years were 3.8 percent, zero percent and 3.65 percent.
“Eastern will remain Michigan’s leader in tuition restraint, with the smallest increase over the four-year period of any of the public universities,” Martin said.
The increase in undergraduate tuition will be $9.75 a credit hour, according to board documents. The additional cost would amount to $343 for an in-state resident undergraduate student taking 30 credit hours during the academic year, an increase from $8,683 to $9,026 in annual tuition.
EMU’s Chief Financial Officer John Lumm said the university will continue its focus on providing quality education and trying to keep it as affordable as possible.
“The Board [of Regents], President Martin and the leadership team at Eastern, are very aware that any tuition increase is a burden for students. We work very hard to minimize the impact and ensure that the added costs are necessary to improve the quality of education and the campus life experience,” Lumm said.
With forty percent of U.S. states cutting higher education spending last year, colleges and universities across the country are increasing tuition to make up for the loss of funds. The national average tuition and fees increase for public four-year institutions was 15 percent, between the 2008-09 and 2010-11 academic years, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center. During those academic years EMU increased tuition by only 3.8 percent.
EMU student Emily Lescelius, 20, a hotel and restaurant management major and business management minor, said she has no problem with the tuition increase.
“I know a few years ago we didn’t increase at all and I think that is an extremely huge effort and accomplishment for a school to be able to do that. That they’re raising it now, I’m not really that upset, because schools do it every year. It’s necessary sometimes, especially in this economy. You have to, you can’t avoid it,” Lescelius said.
EMU Student Government President Matthew Norfleet said it’s his job to look out for the interests of the student body, but he understands the difficulties the university is facing as well.
“Obviously as the head of student government, the voice of the students, I’m traditionally unilaterally against any type of increase,” he said. “It would be pretty easy to just make a really broad statement, ‘I’m against it,’ because it’s politically easy. Of course I’m against it, but I wanted us to be a little bit smarter about it. So I said, ‘Let’s look at what we’ve done over the last three years.’”
Norfleet said they took into consideration the university’s recent tuition increases haven’t kept pace with inflation, faculty and staff layoffs, cuts in state funding and the need to invest in campus facilities and services.
“As long as the students are getting their return on better facilities, better amenities, that’s something that we can understand,” Norfleet said. “But what’s going to be again the responsibility of the students, is to come down and say, ‘Is it worth it?’ Because believe it or not, there’s going to be some students that say, ‘I can’t afford the tuition increase in addition to the housing increase.”
Norfleet was speaking of the additional 4.95 percent campus housing increase the board approved April 17, which breaks down to a $391 annual increase for a double-occupancy room.
But, Norfleet said he understands how tough budgets can be and feels EMU did a good job last year re-evaluating and prioritizing.
“What we’d like to keep focus on is the fact that we have been pretty much a leader in tuition restraint … we’re the lowest of any public university in the state. I think that EMU overall has done a pretty good job. What this 3.95 [percent] increase means, still remains to be seen,” he said.
Norfleet said he doesn’t want to lose sight of the quality and affordability elements that make EMU great.
“I’ve met with John Lumm maybe even a dozen times at this point and I really do believe that they’re trying their best. Has their best been enough? That remains to be seen,” he said.
Martin said EMU is also increasing student financial aid by 5.9 percent, including $2 million in additional university-sponsored funding, totaling $35.7 million in financial aid for 2012-13.
EMU’s financial aid has grown by more than 66 percent, from $21.4 million in 2007-08 to $35.7 million in 2012-13, according to a press release by EMU Executive Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom.
At the meeting, the board also approved a new enrollment plan called “Come home to Eastern—come home to Michigan,” which offers in-state tuition to out-of-state alumni and their children (including step or adopted children).
Martin said the university is proud of its affordability and academic investments, in a press release by Larcom.
“We are very excited to extend this benefit to, and welcome home, our alumni and their children,” Martin said.
The enrollment plan is another effort to bring talent back to Michigan, and to increase enrollment at the university.