NMU Tuition Increase Lowest in State So Far

The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a tuition and fee schedule for 2006-07 at a special meeting on July 10.

The annual cost for full-time resident undergraduate students will increase by 4.8 percent. They will pay $6,141, which is $283 more than the previous year. Nonresident undergraduates will pay $10,077, an increase of $475. The annual rate for full-time graduate students will total $4,981 for Michigan residents, up $227 from a year ago, and $7,333 for nonresidents, which represents a $339 increase.

“We’ll be able to maintain the quality of our programs and sustain efforts in a number of initiatives while keeping the tuition increase modest,” said NMU President Les Wong. “I think it’s a sign of our board’s confidence in the administration to steward the financial resources as efficiently as possible.”


NMU administrators presented the board with three different tuition models for consideration, with increases ranging from 4.8 to 5.8 percent. Each was developed around a tentative agreement reached by the governor, House and Senate to boost Northern’s state appropriation by 3 percent, or $1.3 million.


Trustees authorized the lowest option by a 6-2 vote. Karl Weber of Marquette, chair of the board, supported the motion.


“The bottom line for me is keeping Northern affordable for everyone,” Weber said. “I didn’t want to get into the argument that just because other universities have announced higher tuition increases, Northern should move in that direction, too.”


In casting one of the two nay votes, Trustee Jon LaSalle of Marquette said he would have favored the middle-ground increase of 5.1 percent.


“The three-tenths of one percent difference wouldn’t have substantially impacted students, but the additional revenue would have enabled the administration to catch up on deferred maintenance, equipment replacement and some of the other needs it has put off in recent years because of budgetary shortfalls. I was also in favor of the higher rate as a hedge against the legislative process we’ve seen lately of putting out an appropriation figure for planning purposes, then pulling money away from universities after they’ve set tuition.”  

In developing the tuition models, administrators also assumed a net increase in general fund expenditures of $3.5 million. This covers rising costs associates with contracted compensation adjustments and utilities, along with $675,000 in mandated support for the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) and $375,000 in additional student labor costs as a result of the state’s minimum wage hike.

The NMU administration is expected to present a detailed FY2007 general fund budget for approval at the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 10-11.

Northern's 4.8 percent increase is the lowest hike among the state's public universities that have announced rates for the upcoming academic year. The others, in ascending order, are as follows: Saginaw Valley, 4.9 percent; Lake Superior State, 5 percent; Grand Valley and Michigan State, 5.9 percent; Western Michigan, 6 percent; Ferris State, 6.8 percent; and Michigan Tech, 8.75 percent. Central Michigan increased tuition for freshmen by 17.8 percent, but through its "CMU Promise" program, the rate for those students will be locked in for five years. The University of Michigan campuses are scheduled to set tuition Friday. The others yet to announce rates are Eastern Michigan, Oakland and Wayne State.

Northern's full tuition and fee schedule has been posted online.


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Updated: July 19, 2006

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