Board of Trustees approve tuition hike

Hannah Lentz

The Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees increased tuition by $149 per semester from last year’s rate, bringing the annual tuition to $10,752 for a full-time undergraduate Michigan resident.

The newly adapted budget includes $38 million for student financial aid – an increase of $3.1 million – that is available for students in the form of scholarships and grants.

The GVSU tuition increase for the 2014-2015 school year is the lowest percentage rate in the last 10 years, categorizing GVSU’s tuition rate in the lower half of all universities in Michigan. The relatively low tuition rate increase this year is a direct result of GVSU’s increased funding from the state.

“While GVSU pays attention to the tuition rates of our peer or competitor institutions, our goal is to provide the highest value, which we believe is a combination of a very high quality education at a price that makes it affordable or accessible to our community,” said Jim Bachmeier, vice president for finance and administration. “We worry about affordability and student debt after graduation and strive to minimize that debt load both through lower tuition rates and by striving to enhance speed to graduation.”

With the focus being on creating a positive college experience followed by increased job potential, GVSU has experienced an approximately 30 percent increase in graduates over the past 10 years. According to a press release by the university, nearly 85 percent of students are employed, in graduate school or both following graduation. Of those working, 90 percent are employed in Michigan.

“I believe our students tend to represent the best and brightest of Michigan’s young adults. Our academic programs are both rigorous and relevant. Our employers have confidence in Grand Valley graduates,” Bachmeier said. “Said another way, our alumni have done well, and employers would like to hire more just like them. GVSU faculty work closely with the employer community and have paid attention to what employers want or need in their new recruits. Students have been deliberate in meeting those employer needs.”

The Board of Trustees additionally approved a new major in entrepreneurship at GVSU that will be available this school year.

“The major in entrepreneurship is a formalization of existing Seidman curriculum in entrepreneurship and innovation,” Diana Lawson of the Seidman College of Business said. “The entrepreneurship is a secondary major and provides the opportunity for students to add the dimension of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to their primary area of study. Innovation is a key driver in helping organizations move toward the future needs of those they serve.”

In league with the new developments for GVSU, the university also approved the introduction of Light of the World Academy in Pinckney – a charter school authorized by the university. GVSU authorizes 62 charter schools throughout the state and serves 34,000 students in charter schools. The Light of the World Academy, once it opens its doors in 2015, will become the 63rd charter school.

“As a university authorizer, we provide legal oversight, teacher training and serve as the school’s fiscal agent,” said Tim Wood, special assistant to the president for charter schools. “Additionally, as the authorizer we apply to the State Department of Education for a school code which allows the charter school to receive state per pupil funding.”

In board-related news, David S. Hooker was elected as chair of the Board of Trustees, and John C. Kennedy was elected as vice chair. Hooker and Kennedy are current trustees who were elevated to leadership positions on the board at the July meeting. Both individuals are serving eight-year terms of a gubernatorial appointment and have been members of the Board of Trustees since they were appointed in 2011. Both will serve until 2018, unless reappointed by the governor. Hooker has also served as chair of the academic and student affairs committee of the Board. Kennedy previously served as chair of the finance and audit committee of the Board.

“Both are very committed to the mission of the university,” Executive Associate to the President and Secretary to the Board, Teri Losey said. “(The) John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering was named for Kennedy. Hooker’s mother and father both have served on the Board of Trustees.”

In addition, the budget passed by the Board includes a 3 percent wage increase for faculty and staff members for the 2014-2015 school year.

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