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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

New Tuition Program Prompts Discussion Among Alumni and Current Students

The launch of a free tuition program has successfully caught the attention of many locals, though not all in the city of Ypsilanti are satisfied, especially current students and recent grads.

Eastern Michigan University released a new tuition program last month, set to begin Fall 2019, which offers incoming students free tuition their junior and senior years.

Admission to the program requires students to live on campus the duration of their degree and maintain 30 credits annually. In addition, students will be required to purchase a meal plan through the university all four years.

If a student fulfills the requirements while paying the full $13,000 annual tuition for two years, EMU will pay 100% of their tuition for the final two years.

With concerns over low-enrollment, shocking budget difficulties evident in recent athletic department adjustments, and dozens of faculty cuts, EMU initiated its new program, 4WARD Graduation Scholarship in an attempt to stabilize the economic well-being of the university.

For some locals, it is not the tuition aspect that is upsetting. Requiring students to live on campus all four years would significantly cut down on business to nearby landlords who have decades of experience with and income from EMU students. The four-year meal plan requirement could also be troublesome for local restaurants and general community involvement.

Though plenty of current students are raising questions, wondering if they might be able to get in on this deal. According to information released by the university, this new program will begin with the Fall 2019 incoming freshman class. No current students are eligible to participate, an official comment from the university on Facebook confirms.

Alumni of the university are also speaking up about the financial changes, some even wishing the program had begun years ago.

A 2017 Eastern Michigan University graduate joked that Eastern should refund him two years of tuition. 

“That’s actually unbelievable and I’m a bit annoyed about it,” they said.

Another recent EMU alum, Jaycie Sabala, takes an optimistic approach to the topic.

“As someone who is working towards getting free college tuition for all university students across the country, I am pretty excited that EMU is doing this,” Sabala said. 

Sabala also expressed her frustration, however, as to why Eastern waited so long to implement such a program. “Had they made these changes 20 years ago, my college experience could have been better than it was,” Sabala said.

Free college tuition for universities across the country may not be that far into the future. The University of Michigan recently implemented a tuition waiver for students from families with annual household incomes of $65,000 or less. Many other universities are either following suit or have already begun similar programs.

While free tuition sounds like a wonderful attempt to increase the education of citizens, long-term consequences have yet to be revealed. The worth of a college degree may also undergo some changes, just like its price tag.