WSU undergrad tuition up 3.75%, grad up 4%

Jo Kroeker
The Detroit News

Detroit — Tuition for Wayne State University undergraduates will go up 3.75 percent for 2017-18, while graduate students will pay 4 percent more.

The university’s board of governors unanimously approved the increases Friday. The annual tuition for in-state, full-time freshmen and sophomores will increase to $12,728 (based on 30 credit hours a year), up from $12,268 in 2016-17, a difference of $460. Juniors and seniors will pay $14,822.66 annually, up from $14,286.90 last year, a difference of $535.76.

“Nobody likes to raise tuition,” board of governors member Mark Gaffney said before the vote. “But with state support levels less than they were six years ago, and our responsibility to present a balanced budget anyway, we didn’t have a choice.”

According to Gaffney, 13 percent of students have full scholarships, and more than 30 percent of the aggregate tuition is paid for by the college. “We’re doing our part,” he said.

The tuition increase for undergrads comes just under the state cap of 3.8 percent, while the graduate rate exceeds it by 0.2 percent.

Public universities that follow the cap receive a small amount of incentive funding. The cap set this year by the Legislature is 3.8 percent or $475 per student, whichever is higher.

Diana Goode, senior associate vice president of the budget and finance committee, said the difference in tuition rates for undergrad and graduate students is a result of an increase in numbers of enrolled freshmen and a decrease in graduate school students. She said all undergrads have a uniform tuition to simplify the tuition structure.

“We need to be intent on keeping raising tuition down,” board governor Marilyn Kelly said. “I would probably not support a tuition increase as high as this one in 2019.”

The budget and finance committee of the board of governors unanimously agreed to propose a general fund budget of $645 million. This marks a $14 million increase, or 2.2 percent under the Detroit Consumer Index, meaning it does not meet inflation.

Goode said this is the first time in years in which a balanced budget was reached without across-the-board cuts, in part because housing will be transferred to a private company, Corvias Campus Living.

On-campus students will pay $9,350 a year for housing. Semester parking passes will decrease from $287 to $222 in an effort to encourage campus engagement, Goode said.

Public safety spending increases by $1.4 million and counseling for students by $500,000; the student government campaigned for increases in both of those areas.

Anthony Eid, the student senate alternate representative, supported the tuition raise because this time, students would see the increases put to use in public safety and psychological services

“We know tuition is going to increase,” Eid said. “It’s about what students get out of it.”

Eid said he anticipated increases for as long as Michiganians continue their voting patterns for legislators. “As long as people keep electing them, tuition will increase,” he said. “It’s our job to make sure students benefit.”

Board of governors member Kim Trent said Michigan ranks 32nd of the states in the acquisition of four-year degrees, and 42nd in per-capita income, statistics she said aren’t a coincidence.

Trent said the responsibility of the board is to speak out about the need for increased state-level investment in Michigan higher education. “We need to tell Lansing that we need to invest in higher education in our state,” she said.

Most of the state’s 15 public universities have set tuition for the coming school year. Resident freshmen and sophomores at Michigan State will pay 2.8 percent more; costs for juniors and seniors will increase 3.8 percent. University of Michigan tuition will rise 2.9 percent, while Ferris State University goes up 3.7 percent. Eastern Michigan University sets rates on Tuesday and Central Michigan University on Thursday.