MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University students will have an opportunity to offer feedback on a proposed flat-rate tuition structure. A public forum is scheduled at 4 p.m. Monday, March 24, in 102 Jamrich Hall.
If approved, Northern's proposal would go into effect for the 1997-98 academic year. Undergraduates enrolled in 12-16 credit hours would pay $1,416 per semester for tuition. Students taking more than 16 credit hours would be charged the flat rate plus an additional $118 per credit. Those enrolled in fewer than 12 credit hours would pay $118 per credit. This compares with the current rate of $92.25.
"Tuition will go up for a majority of students under this model," said Paul Duby of planning and analytical studies at NMU. "But the 80 percent of our students taking 12 or more credit hours will be able to buy more education - more credits - for the tuition they will be paying. And those currently enrolled in 16 to 18 hours would actually see their tuition bills drop for the same credit load under the flat rate."
Duby added that the shift to a flat-rate model would encourage students to add more courses to their schedules. "This would speed their entry into the job market or grad school, decrease the total cost of earning a degree and lighten their debt load," he said.
Six state-supported colleges and universities currently follow a version of the flat-rate tuition model. Northern's proposal comes on the heeis of Gov. John Engler's recommendation of a 2.5 percent increase in state funding for higher education - a step below the anticipated 2.9 to 3 percent increase.
"Shifting to a flat-rate tuition structure would keep us from having to implement a very large, across-the-board increase in tuition, or to levy all sorts of additional fees," Duby said.
NMU's annual tuition and fees are currently the lowest of the 15 state-supported colleges and universities. The adoption of a flat-rate structure would not affect that standing, Duby said.
The University Priorities Committee will consider input received at the public forum prior to making a recommendation on the university's financial plan, which includes the tuition proposal. President William E. Vandament will then present the UPC's recommendation to the Board of Control for a final decision.
Paul Duby can be reached at 906-227-2670