by Walter Kraft, Published June 21, 2011
YPSILANTI - For the third consecutive year, Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents has taken a leadership position in keeping higher education affordable for Michigan students and their families, while focusing on academic quality and student success. The Board of Regents today approved a tuition and mandatory fees increase of 3.65 percent ($10.20 per credit hour/$306 per year for undergraduates) for fall 2011 as part of the 2012 fiscal year budget. It is the lowest increase of any Michigan university that has announced rates for 2011-2012.
Board of Regents Chair Roy Wilbanks said, "We are investing in our students, in academic quality, and in growth. Our ongoing commitment to fiscal stewardship and cost containment has provided the foundation to keep tuition low, while continuing to invest in student success and a positive student experience."
The $281.4 million budget provides for a $3.3 million/10.8 percent year-to-year increase in University-sponsored financial aid. This represents a $12.3 million/57 percent increase over the last four years. Eastern is committed to helping students and family cope with college costs.
President Susan Martin said, "We are continuing our investment in a great educational experience and campus life for our students, funding 29 new faculty joining Eastern this fall, renovating the Rackham building for new and expanding health programs, funding $1 million for strategic initiatives in academic programs whether it be a new program like physician assistant or strengthening existing programs that are growing. New faculty, enhanced facilities and increased financial aid continue to be funded."
Based on the 3.8 percent increase two years ago and the "0,0,0" of last year, both of which were the lowest of any Michigan university, Eastern's average three-year increase is 2.5 percent. The average for all universities that have reported so far, not including Eastern, is 6.3 percent for three years. The overall cost increase for Eastern students over the three-year period is approximately $1,000 less than the average increases at the other Michigan universities.
Eastern Michigan Student Government President Jelani McGadney said, "I am grateful that Eastern Michigan has taken steps to protect students and maintain its core mission as a university of opportunity. I hope this will continue and that EMU will have the ongoing courage to keep tuition low and the commitment to making the institution truly open to all."
The majority of program fees will increase by the same 3.65 percent as tuition. Fees for certain programs, representing approximately 12 percent of current student credit hours, are being increased by a greater amount to bring them in line with other programs and new laboratory and studio fees are being introduced. The lab and studio fees will flow directly back to the academic departments to fund instructional supplies and equipment. The increase for all tuition and fees amounts to a weighted average of 4.25 percent. A detailed breakdown can be found in the tuition and fees recommendation on the Board of Regents website.
Aggressive cost containment actions include the elimination of administrative positions, a pay freeze for non-union personnel, greater employee contributions to health care coverage, the reduction of travel and other administrative expenses, and increased energy efficiency. There are no reductions in faculty in the budget.
Even with tuition restraint, Eastern Michigan continues to reinvest in academics and facilities. The university's $200 million five-year capital plan includes last January's opening of the 80,000 sq. ft. addition to the Science Complex. This fall, the university will reopen the newly renovated Pray-Harrold - Eastern's largest classroom building; and $1.9 million is committed to the renovation of the Rackham building to expand health programs. Updates also are under way to residence halls including exterior and interior enhancements and new energy-efficient windows.
The university's commitment to affordability and academic success has resulted in increased enrollment of 7 percent over the last two years - more than 1,500 students. Projections indicate a further increase in enrollment this fall.