Central Michigan University's continued commitment to keeping higher education as affordable as possible for students and families was apparent today as its Board of Trustees approved a conservative 2.96 percent increase in 2017-18 undergraduate tuition rates.
CMU has the lowest cumulative tuition increase among Michigan's 15 public institutions over the past eight years. At the same time, CMU has increased scholarships and financial aid 87 percent since George E. Ross was named president in 2010, adding another $2.5 million for the coming year.
CMU's tuition is 30 percent below the governor's tuition cap over the past five years, which this year was 3.8 percent.
"By not going to the allowable tuition restraint cap, we have saved each student more than $3,000 when attaining their undergraduate degree," Ross said. "We will not fund our budget on the backs of students and families without working diligently to contain costs."
Board Chair William Weideman noted that CMU's total cost of attendance is lower than all of Michigan's other public, level one and two research universities — by as much as $4,400 a year.
State appropriations make up less than 18 percent of CMU's revenue and fund just 55 days of operations.
With today's board action, undergraduate tuition rates will be $417 a credit hour this fall.
"A conservative budget that requires diligence and wisdom across the university"
Trustees also approved a nearly $485 million operating budget for 2017-18 — a 1.5 percent decrease from the fiscal year that ends June 30.
Ross called it a conservative budget that requires diligence and wisdom across the university.
"It is a budget that is focused solidly on students and on the provision of extraordinary educational experiences that prepare them for successful careers and fulfilling lives," Ross said. "This budget continues CMU's ranking as a major, national university, with recognized excellence keeping pace with student and state needs, including in business, health care and STEM programs.
"CMU remains financially strong. In fact, analysts with firms such as Moody's and Barclays say Central ranks among the most financially strong universities in the nation."
Ross noted that cost containment measures play an important role in the budget.
For example, CMU's utility budget has been frozen for eight years, thanks to robust energy-conservation measures that are saving nearly $2.6 million annually. These savings have funded $6.1 million of deferred maintenance projects and $3.4 million of capital projects.
Competitive bidding and purchasing cooperatives among many of the state's universities save CMU another $3.5 to $4.5 million each year.
"I commend the institution for its cost-containment efforts, which have kept our tuition rates well below the governor's (tuition) cap," Weideman said. "The Board of Trustees and administration are committed to operating with a balanced budget year in and year out. We will not operate with a deficit."
In other matters, trustees also approved:
- An updated strategic plan.
- Faculty personnel transactions, including 57 promotions, 30 professor salary adjustments, one change in a sabbatical leave and one tenure recommendation.
- A resolution changing the name of the Department of Geography to the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. This change is a reflection of the addition of CMU's environmental studies major and related program offerings.
- A proposal to contract for planning, design, construction, equipping and furnishing the new Center for Integrated Health Studies. Construction of the $26.4 million project, which will be 75 percent funded by the state, is expected to begin next March and be completed in July 2019.
In his report to the board, President Ross recognized CMU staff for their efforts in responding to last weekend's flood. He discussed the university's $4 million investment this summer in labs, equipment and educational technology to enhance learning, as well as
five new online programs launching this fall.
A transcript of President Ross' report is available
on the president's website.