In an effort to encourage improved graduation rates, Eastern Michigan University’s student government is supporting a new tuition rebate incentive. The program, conceived by Student Body President Matthew Norfleet and Vice President Desmond Miller, will award students who meet the necessary requirements a rebate of any tuition increases over the course of their college career.
To qualify for the rebate, students must graduate in four years, have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA, complete 200 hours of community service and be active and involved on campus.
The community service portion of the proposal is a key aspect, according to Norfleet.
“We really feel like the city of Ypsilanti, the university and even the county, do a lot to insure that this is the right type of environment for us as students to grow,” Norfleet said. “Investing right back into that same community by giving your time is something that both the community and the student can benefit from.”
Student Government will be building on the current Learning Beyond the Classroom program to track student involvement.
Considerations will also be made for students in programs that take longer than four years, including education and nursing programs.
The proposal also includes transfer students; students who transfer with more than 30 credits are required to graduate in three years to qualify for the rebate.
The amount of the refund would be a fixed number, based on the average tuition increase over a four-year period. The proposal includes analyses of a $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 rebate.
The incentive is calculated to cost the university $1.9 million. According to Norfleet, the incentive will pay for itself based on the revenue generated by increased enrollment.
Norfleet and Miller consulted with various university administrators in creating the incentive, including Chief Financial Officer John Lumm, Regent Beth Fitzsimmons and Provost Kim Schatzel.
“It really seemed as if it’s something that the university is considering implementing,” Norfleet said.
He and Miller originally had planned to initiate tuition freeze for qualifying students, but found it would have been really difficult to individualize such a program.
In an email, Lumm said, “As part of our budget development process, we will consider and evaluate a number of proposals, including this one, as the budget development and review process for next fiscal year progresses over the next few months. The Board of Regents approves the budget and the administration will be making a recommendation to the Board for fiscal year 2013-14 in June.”
Norfleet said the program has also generated interest from an outside source, the Ann Arbor Rotary Club.
“To have an external source say that this is a really interesting idea, and at least wanting to look into it is something that really makes me proud,” he said.
Norfleet said he sees the new program as part of his legacy at EMU.
“Hopefully at the end you’ll be able to leave things in better shape than you got. This tuition rebate incentive, I don’t think it’s going to go away,” he said.