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Wayne State tuition increase averages 4.1%

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Detroit – Wayne State University’s Board of Governors raised tuition an average of 4.1 percent for 2016-17, coming in just under the state’s 4.2 percent cap.

The increases mean annual tuition for in-state, lower-division full-time students will be $12,268 annually, up from $11,814 this year, a jump of 3.8 percent. Juniors and seniors will pay 4.5 percent more.

“It is always difficult to raise tuition knowing that our students will feel the effects of the increase,” said Gary Pollard, chairman of the Board of Governors. “We feel the increase is necessary to maintain the excellence of Wayne State University, but we also resolved to keep the increase below the state’s restraint cap.”

The tuition increases passed 6-2, with Governors Dana Thompson and David Nicholson voting no.

“Today, Wayne State University voted for a budget that will price students out of an education that’s supposed to be affordable and accessible to all students,” Thompson said, adding that she is concerned that more than 500 WSU administrators earn a total of more than $70 million. “The administration has not adequately explained how the increase in tuition will impact enrollment, retention and graduation rates.”

Meanwhile, WSU increased financial aid 9.1 percent, or $6.4 million, bringing institutionally funded financial aid to $72.7 million in the 2017 budget.

Three years ago, WSU became the first public university to exceed the tuition restraint cap set by the Legislature. Coming in under the cap this year qualifies the school to get incentive funding.

In a statement, President M. Roy Wilson said the university has received the lowest percentage increase in state appropriations over the last five years, “due in part to the state’s flawed performance metrics system.”

“While we support performance-based funding,” Wilson said, “we believe performance metrics should take into account the unique missions of each institution within the state, as well as the unique contributions of our research universities.”

Since the Legislature established the cap five years ago, WSU, Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University are the only schools to exceed it.

This year, a Senate-House conference panel added a $400,000 penalty to Oakland and Eastern, both of which lost performance funding after exceeding the tuition cap last year.

Michigan Technological University raised tuition 4.8 percent in April but spokeswoman Jennifer Donovan said that was before the cap was set. The school will adjust the rate, she said.

“We want to stay under the cap,” Donovan said. “We want the proper funding Michigan Tech will get.”

Other schools that will set tuition: Western Michigan University next week and Grand Valley State University next month.