Universities Unhappy with Cuts

By: Jamie Edmonds
By: Jamie Edmonds

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman laid it all out on the table for the House Higher Education Committee members Wednesday

"We've been confronting the reality for years, we've not stood still," Coleman said. "In 2009 we reduced spending by $135 million."

For 10 years, the state has dis-invested in higher education, and Coleman said while U of M has planned for this future, and gotten support from alumni, it hasn't been easy.

"We've worked on health care benefits, we've worked on purchasing, worked on consolidating services, you name, we've done it," she said.

Governor Snyder's budget proposal for this year cuts another 15 percent from higher education, but the caveat is, if you raise tuition by more than 7 percent to cover, the cuts run deeper.

"We have done things to get to 15 percent," Thomas Haas, the president of Grand Valley State, said, "like salary freezes, benefit cuts, etc. "But 22 percent was a surprise to me and I now I have to go back and see what else we can do."

What this all boils down to is certainly a tuition hike for students of most if not all of Michigan's 15 public colleges and universities. Though Wednesday the presidents in attendance in Lansing said it was too early to give a figure.

MSU's President Lou Anna K. Simon said in her blog recently, that they will try to keep tuition hikes to the lowest levels possible while still maintaining quality, which is something Coleman seconded.

"I refuse to let the quality of the University of Michigan suffer," Coleman said.

But inevitably, less money is being spent on each individual student in this state, which worries some.

"There's been a shift from taxpayers to students and their families," Haas said.

The state has all but eliminated financial aid, but Wednesday the presidents of Ferris State and U of M have said they've upped their contributions of institutional aid over the years to compensate.

As an example, MSU lost $19 million in financial aid for students in just three years, but increased institutional aid by 58 percent over the past five years.

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