Continuing a commitment to keep higher education as affordable as possible for students and families, the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today approved a conservative 2.5 percent increase in 2016-17 undergraduate tuition rates. The move adds $10 per credit hour.
Among Michigan's 15 public institutions, CMU has had the lowest cumulative tuition increase over the past six years — less than half that of the largest increase in the state. At the same time, CMU has increased scholarships and financial aid 67 percent — to $61 million — under the leadership of President George E. Ross since he arrived in 2010.
CMU's rate of increase is well below the 4.8 percent cap that Lansing policymakers are allowing. CMU’s tuition is 28 percent below what the state mandated rate caps would have allowed our tuition to be the past four years.
"Our responsibility is significant today, as we discuss tuition rates for the coming academic year," Ross said in his opening comments to the board.
"State funding allows CMU to operate just 61 days of the year. The rest is largely borne by our students and their families. This truth overshadows our deliberations, as we fully understand the personal impact our decisions have on every single one of our 27,000 students."
State appropriations make up less than 17 percent of the university's funding, whereas parents who send their students to Central today would have attended the university when the Legislature covered about 75 percent of the cost of a CMU education.
Today's increase takes undergraduate tuition from $395 to $405 per hour starting this fall. Trustees also approved a 3.5 percent increase in room and board rates.
Trustees at Michigan Technological University also approved new tuition and fees today, with an average 4.8 percent increase.
CMU Trustee Tricia Keith noted that educational costs are a nationwide issue.
"With the strong financial stewardship this university has, and has had, the question is, 'What more can we do?' I ask that the university work toward reviewing the model and seeing what kind of things we can do."
Trustee Robert Wardrop noted that CMU is competing with all other universities and is doing well in comparison.
"Tuition increases are hard on our students. We've held it down more than the other universities," he said.
In other board action, trustees received an update from the university's Online Academic Program Committee, which has expanded into four work groups. The groups are studying:
- how best to support faculty in using best practices for e-learning;
- needs of different student populations;
- market opportunities for new programs; and
- structural issues related to course and program development and delivery.
The online committee will present its report to the president in December.
In other matters, the board also approved:
- Naming the Events Center for John G. Kulhavi, '65, in recognition of a lifetime of service, generosity and leadership. He has served CMU as a member of the Board of Trustees, Development Board, Advisory Board to the College of Business Administration and the Events Center steering committee. He has endowed a neuroscience professorship and was instrumental in the acquisition of the Beaver Island Boathouse.
- A nine-year, $25 million electricity contract that locks in rates and establishes that 25 percent of the energy will come from renewable sources.
- Changes to the Academic Senate constitution that allow the membership and election of fixed-term faculty.
- Additional funding of $465,000 to repair the SAC pool, bringing the total project cost to $2.7 million. The pool, built 25 years ago and undergoing its first major renovation, will be closed from July 25 through the end of the year. Rose Pool will remain open during that time. The renovations are expected to preserve the SAC pool for another 20-plus years.
- A list of nearly 3,500 students who will graduate in May.
During its committee meetings Thursday, the board heard proposed plans to renovate the lower level of Ronan Hall into offices for nearly 100 student services staff members and student workers. The space would bring together registrar, scholarship and financial aid, graduate studies, and Veterans' Resource Center staff. Trustees are likely to vote on this project in June.
A transcript of President Ross' full report to the board is available here.