Eastern Michigan University has some budget problems. Namely, it’s short by about $4.6 million, according to an annarbor.com article. The article explains, “EMU Chief Financial Officer John Lumm told the EMU Board of Regents on Tuesday that the shortfall, which was reported at $1.7 million at last month’s regents’ meeting, had ballooned to $4.6 million by Sept. 15.”
It gets better. Another annarbor.com article mentioned that a university-contracted audit reported EMU relies too heavily on tuition and fees to pay bills.
“In fiscal 2011, the Ypsilanti-based university received 75 percent of its $221.4 million operating revenue from tuition and fees. That’s more than $166 million. And it’s 15 percent more than the average ratio at Mid-American Conference schools in 2010, which was 60 percent.
‘You can see the heavy, heavy reliance on tuition and fees,’ said (Vicki) VanDenBerg, a principal of the audit and accounting firm Plante Moran.”
Geoff Larcom, EMU’s executive director of media relations, posted a comment on both articles, stating EMU’s commitment to affordable education, and how EMU’s tuition costs are increasing at a lower rate than other Michigan colleges in order to stay as affordable as possible.
I have to ask, where else does a university get its money? We’re a public university, sure, so
theoretically most of the money should come from the state. But isn’t independence from the state a good thing? I guess not, if the budget is short by that much.
So there’s our problem. On one hand, the university is getting less money than it expected. On the other hand, the money we do have is apparently coming from a bad place – the students.
Perhaps EMU could take a look at where the University of Michigan and Michigan State invest their money.
The state is reducing school funding, and an annarbor.com article mentioned EMU “receives less state appropriations than most MAC universities. EMU received $76 million in state
appropriations in 2011 and $78 million in 2010. However the average amount of appropriations for MAC universities in 2010 was $98 million— a full $20 million higher than EMU’s 2010 level.”
EMU being smaller than other schools might be a factor there, you know.
Larcom said fees and tuition are kept low to make college affordable, and I’m fine with that – more than fine, as a student with around $40,000 dollars of student loans. How much worse could that have been if I’d have gone to a more expensive school?
So what do we do? One article mentions the university is developing plans to cut costs, which so far seems to mean fire everybody who draws a short straw. Yes, I’m simplifying it, but we can’t let budget problems affect the university’s quality. Sooner or later the university will find a way to overcome these cost issues. One of those ways might be to raise tuition and fees.
Larcom said President Susan Martin wants to avoid that as much as possible, so someone better think of a way to keep this university running properly. Maybe better investing is the key; it seems the best option on the table, at least.
If what people like Martin and Larcom say is true, then the people in power at EMU will work to keep this university affordable while also keeping it a viable and quality education provider.
If we have to pick one option, I choose quality myself. We’ll see if we can have both, if the
right people are willing to work for it.
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