Michigan Among States That Shifted Cost of College onto Students, Report Shows

Michigan Among States That Shifted Cost of College onto Students, Report Shows
March 03, 2014/MLive

By Brian Smith

Michigan ranks 40th in per-student state support for higher education,a new report from the Chronicle of Higher Education states.

LANSING -- In almost half the country, per-student state spending on higher education is less than the amount students are asked to pay, and Michigan is no exception, the Chronicle of Higher Education found.

Many states have shifted the burden of paying for higher education onto students since 2000, when 47 states contributed more per-student than enrollees paid. As of 2012, only 26 states still paid a larger share toward college spending than students.

In Michigan, state spending on higher education averages out to $4,608 per student, compared to the $9,871 average per-student cost to enrollees. Those calculations are based on state and local funding for operational expenses for colleges, as well as net tuition revenue taken in by universities after institutional financial aid and tuition waivers or discounts are subtracted.

Overall, Michigan ranked 40th for per-student higher education spending, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education's data. Alaska, Wyoming and Hawaii topped the list by spending more than $10,000 per student, while New Hampshire was at the bottom of the list for spending less than $2,000 per student.

The report cites cuts to Michigan's higher education funding during the Granholm administration as an example of how budget priorities for states have reduced support for colleges and universities.

Mike Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, said the Granholm cuts were a tough blow, as higher education support was cut at twice the national average.

"Michigan, and colleges all across the country, were faced with increased competition for shrinking budgets and we didn’t fare well," Boulus said.

Tuition and fees made up nearly 75 percent of general fund revenue for the state's public universities in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. Tuition surpassed state appropriations as the primary source of funding for colleges in 2002, the data shows.

Gov. Rick Snyder's fiscal year 2015 budget request calls for a 6.1 percent increase to higher education funding, but that increase is tied to conditions - including limits on tuition increases.

Boulus said the proposed increase is a positive step toward shifting the balance back toward a "50-50 split" between state support and tuition costs for state universities.
"We led the nation in the severity of cuts over the last decade, and now that we’re seeing a very healthy increase, wouldn't it be good if we could lead the nation on the upswing," Boulus said.

Boulus is set to testify Wednesday before a House Appropriations subcommittee on higher education about the proposed budget for Michigan's universities.

Brian Smith is the statewide education and courts reporter for MLive. Email him at bsmith11@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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