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The University of Michigan raised tuition 2.9 percent Thursday for in-state undergraduates, staying below the state's 3.8 percent cap.

The increase, approved by the Board of Regents, means those students will pay $436 extra per year. Tuition will increase for resident undergraduates from $14,826 for 2017-18 to $15,262 for 2018-19.

The regents also raised tuition for nonresidents by 3.9 percent, or $1,874, as part of a vote on the university's fiscal 2019 budgets for its Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campus. Tuition for nonresident freshmen and sophomores will rise from $47,476 to $49,350.

The vote was 7-1, with Regent Andrea Fischer Newman opposed.

 

Just before the vote, Newman voiced concerns about raising tuition, specifically for middle-class families.

"I've said this before, and I feel this is the real opportunity to make this statement," Newman said. "In the past 10 years, we've raised in-state tuition over 30 percent for freshmen and sophomores -- an average of 3.3 percent per year -- and more for juniors and seniors."

Similar thoughts on raising tuition were expressed by other regents, although they ended up voting yes, with some saying their vote was primarily for the sake of the budget passing.

"I'm going to support this budget because of the importance of it and because a number of other reasons," Regent Ron Weiser said. "One is that the increase this year is less than the 10-year average of 3.3 percent. Secondly, it's nearly 1 percent less than the cap that was placed by the Legislature and the governor that if we hit over that cap that we would have a reduction in state aid."

Weiser added that he will continue to fight for lower in-state tuition increases and opted to vote to pass the budget because "it is the responsible thing to do."

Regent Andrew C. Richner mentioned that the board was being asked to vote on everything all at once -- the budget for all three campuses, the academic programs, costs, fees, tuition and housing.

Richner said as a result, a vote yes or no could make it appear that a regent is either for or against everything that is proposed.

"We all have things that we like about the budget and things we don't like," Richner said. "If I were voting only on tuition increase, I think, especially for the Ann Arbor campus, I think that would be a no."

The Ann Arbor campus will receive $320.8 million in funding from the state, a $6.2 million (or 2 percent) increase from the 2018 fiscal year, according to Provost Martin A. Philbert.

The budgets are $115 million for the Flint campus, $155 million for the Dearborn campus and $2.18 billion for the Ann Arbor campus. The university's consolidated budget is $9.3 billion.

Throughout the meeting, about 30 people in the audience held up double-sided signs reading "Nurses: Build the Budget" for the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council on one side and "LECS: Build the Budget" for the Lecturers Employee Organization on the other.

Stephanie Gelderloos, an English lecturer and Flint campus chair for LEO, said UM's branch campuses continue to be underfunded.

“I have to acknowledge that I work for an employer who does not quite match my commitment to my students,” Gelderloos said. “This university has billions of dollars in cash reserves at Ann Arbor while students in Flint have suffered from cuts to supportive services and the elimination of beneficial programs."

Gelderloos said the administration's "insistence on maintaining budget segregation between the three campuses" keeps Flint and Dearborn students from accessing resources they need.

"As in Dearborn, our student body in Flint has more first-generation students, more students from low-income families, more students of color and more nontraditional students that Ann Arbor, yet the Flint campus receives less than half of the funding per student from the state of Michigan as Ann Arbor does," Gelderloos said.

Anne Jackson, an employee for 34 years at the university’s hospital, was one of several nurses to speak. She and many others wore red “to show union solidarity” as their contract is set to expire in nine days.

“We have been a union hospital for 42 years. That has served our patients well. The U of M recently gained magnet status, which increased our ratings and reimbursement for patient care,” Jackson said.

“This would not have happened without the hard work and enthusiastic support of the 5,800 UMPNC nurses. We expect good-faith negotiations from the other side of the table resulting in a fair contract that will continue to draw the state's best nurses.”

 

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