NMU Board Sets Tuition


The NMU Board of Trustees today approved tuition and fees for 2009-10. Full-time resident undergraduates will pay an annual rate of $7,454, an increase of $188 per semester. Full-time nonresident undergraduates will pay $11,828, or $299 more per semester.


Administrators presented different models for the finance committee's consideration, each with varying impacts on tuition and the university’s budget. The approved plan balances a 5.3 percent tuition increase with a 9.8 percent boost in univeristy-supported financial aid and scholarships and $2.9 million in budget reductions. If NMU receives stimulus funding this fall, the dollars will be divided among undergraduates and credited to their accounts.


“Because of the increases in institutional aid and federal financial aid support for the Pell Grant program, about one-third of Northern students—those with the greatest financial need—will actually be paying less in tuition in fiscal year 2010 than they did this past year,” said Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration), adding that NMU will also continue to have the second-lowest tuition among Michigan’s public universities.


Administrators developed the tuition models around a projected 3.2 percent decrease in state appropriation and stable enrollment. The $2.9 million in campus-wide reductions equates to 2.9 percent of the university’s budget. It includes the loss of five FTE employees and a decrease in student labor. It also includes cuts in departmental support—printing/postage, supplies, faculty and staff awards, etc.—professional development and travel, deferred facility maintenance, equipment and library resources and utility savings through energy-saving projects. While the cuts will balance the fiscal year 2010 budget, Leach said the university is still facing further reductions in the future as state revenues continue to decline.


In supporting the 5.3 percent tuition proposal, Trustee Larry Inman said, “Northern has taken a posture over the last seven years of being more aggressive in terms of cutting its budget rather than increasing tuition compared with its peer institutions. We’ve always been very sensitive to the cost of an education. But in the process, we’ve basically taken most of the meat and all of the fat away from the bone, from the structure of NMU. It’s to the point we can’t cut much more without affecting quality. With this increase still comes a level of pain because there are budget reductions. I’m comfortable with this combination.”


Trustee Gil Ziegler cast the lone dissenting vote: “The issue here really is not about further cuts. I think the issue is about freezing wages. If you freeze wages, we wouldn’t need this increase. Michigan is going to be in a tougher position this year and next year. How are we going to fund education in two to three years? Are we going to come back and ask for pay cuts? I can’t support putting this burden on the backs of students.”

The NMU chapter of AAUP is currently negotiating a new contract. President Ron Sundell (Geography, right) addressed the board in the public comment portion of the meeting and urged trustees to approve a tuition increase that would adequately fund core educational needs.

“To do that, we must recognize and value our faculty, pay a competitive wage so that we continue to attract a high-quality teaching staff and maintain sufficient numbers of faculty to reduce class sizes and increase the number of course offerings,” he said. “We cannot afford to economize by reducing the quality of education.”

All but two Michigan universities have set tuition and fees for the coming year, with increases ranging from 3.8 to 6.7 percent. 

In other action, the board:

▪Agreed to increase the one-time student athletic fee charged to new undergraduate students from $200 to $225. The fee allows students to attend all athletic events on campus at no charge for six years.

▪Accepted nearly $2,800 in gifts and more than $1.2 million in external grants.

▪Approved the following meeting dates for calendar year 2010: Feb. 18-19 (tentative retreat); April 29-30; July 8-9; Sept. 23-24; and Dec. 9-10.

▪Granted emeritus status to former professors Lawrence Ellerbruch, mathematics, and Thomas Meravi, engineering technology.

▪Approved the following public school academy board appointments: Donna Boda and Marilyn Shawano, Nah Tah Wahsh Charter School; and Marcus Randolf, Burton Glen Charter School. Geneva Wadahsega and Rose Gill were also reappointed to the Nah Tah Wahsh board.


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Updated: July 17, 2009

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