Board Sets Tuition Rates
The NMU Board of Trustees today unanimously approved a tuition and fees schedule for 2007-08. It raises resident and non-resident tuition by the same dollar amount – not the same percentage – to help Northern remain competitive with schools in surrounding states. Full-time undergraduate students will pay $284 more per semester. The annual cost will be $6,709 for residents and $10,645 for non-residents. These rates are contingent upon NMU receiving its $4.2 million delayed state appropriation payment in October and no further reductions in state funding.
“This plan is a fair balance with the same dollar increase for both groups," said Trustee Doug Roberts, who made the motion for approval. “I am sensitive to the issue Northern has of competing for students who are not from Michigan. The state has a right to want to keep people here, but doesn’t it also benefit the state to attract students from elsewhere who might ultimately choose to stay? I was one of those people.”
NMU President Les Wong said declining demographics in the Upper Peninsula have led the university to expand its recruiting efforts beyond Michigan’s border. Non-resident students comprise nearly 19 percent of Northern’s undergraduate population and that figure is growing.
“But we also have a longstanding tradition of being conscious of our regional market and maintaining access and affordability,” Wong told the board. “Our models show our willingness to keep tuition at inflation and we would be in a better position to do that if the state had kept its commitment to higher education and hadn’t cut funding. Fortunately, our financial aid packages are very responsive—to the point that our most needy students are not turned down. If you’re a Michigan resident and want to go to college, you can make it happen at Northern.”
NMU administrators presented three different models for consideration, with tuition increases ranging from 9-9.5 percent. The plan approved by the board falls in the middle at 9.25 percent for Michigan students and will maintain Northern’s rank as the second most affordable institution in the state. Of the three, it also results in the least scaling back on initiatives related to instructional staffing/support and facility maintenance.
Some trustees expressed concern about the trend of deferring maintenance in tight budget times. One suggested possibly increasing tuition higher so that more projects could be completed before they become more expensive and lead to larger tuition hikes in future years.
The tuition models were developed around an appropriation decrease of $807,000 – the portion of a previous funding boost that NMU had to return to the state for FY2007 – which was not restored; stationary enrollment projections for the coming year; and a net increase in general fund expenditures of $3.6 million. The latter covers rising costs associated with increasing the number of faculty in the classroom, contracted compensation adjustments and utilities, mandated support for the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) and additional student labor costs with the next phase of the state’s minimum wage boost.
If the delayed $4.2 million payment is not received, NMU administrators said they would be forced to eliminate initiatives, implement additional reductions in staffing, programming and maintenance, and consider a mid-year tuition and fee increase.
Nine public universities have announced rate increases ranging from 7.4 to 21 percent. Remaining schools were scheduled to set tuition today or later this month. Northern's actual dollar increase is the second lowest so far.
Northern's full tuition and fee schedule has been posted online.
In other business, the board:
●Agreed to operate the 2007-08 general fund and designated fund budgets at a level no greater than the previous year, adjusted for resources based on newly approved tuition and fee rates and carryover funds from the previous year
●Accepted nearly $1.5 million in external gifts and grants
●Granted emeritus status to the following: June Ackroyd, professor of music; Thomas Cappuccio, professor of art and design; Pamalene Grundstrom, executive assistant to the president and secretary of the NMU Board of Trustees; John Kiltinen, professor of mathematics; and Diane Kordich, professor of art and design
●Increased the bowling course fee from $65 to $70 to reflect the increase being charged to NMU for lane usage
●Changed the senior citizen tuition waiver to reflect that tuition is covered for on-campus classes only and not the off-campus or Web-based classes
●Appointed board members for the following Public School Academies: North Star Academy-Ryan Dawson; Walton Academy-Michael Barbour, Sherry Harper and Gordon May (all reappointments); and Nah Tah Wahsh Academy-Rodney Frye, Donna Boda, Stephanie Philemon and reappointees Rose Gill, Geneva Wandahsega and Rodney Lovell.
The next meeting of the board, originally scheduled Oct. 4-5, has been changed to Sept. 27-28.