GV trustees approve 6.9 percent tuition hike, set budget for 2011-2012

EPSON scanner image

EPSON scanner image

Anya Zentmeyer

Grand Valley State University’s Board of Trustees approved the university budget today, which calls for a 6.91 percent tuition hike that will tack $628 onto bill for in-state students, totaling at $9,716 for yearly tuition.

Though the hike, which complies with Gov. Rick Snyder’s suggested cap, is in the lower half of Michigan’s 15 public universities, the $412 per-credit-hour increase is still slightly above the 6.27 percent state average.

University leaders said the hike was necessary in the wake of the 22 percent cut in state budget allocations authorized by Gov. Snyder earlier this summer.

“This tuition increase is largely the result of the $13 million reduction is base state appropriation,” vice president for finance and administration, Jim Bachmeier, told trustees at the July 15 meeting.

Bachmeier said GVSU was granted a one-time $4 million state grant for keeping the tuition increase under the 7.1 percent cap due to the low level of state appropriation – just 14 percent of the university’s total operating budget – that has remained at $48 million since 1979 and is one of the lowest state appropriations for public universities in the nation. Funding for financial aid also increased by $5 million to help needy students following the hike.

“You can see that, basically, the state aid cuts are unfortunately passed along to the students,” said trustee member John Kennedy.

12 of the 15 schools approved tuition hikes of more than 6 percent, with only Eastern Michigan 3.53 percent and Central Michigan at the very bottom, with a 3.47 percent increase.

The increase, part of the overall $227 million budget approved at the meeting, comes in pair with a 1.9 percent pay increase across the board following last years’ salary freeze. Administrators reported the raises will cost the university about $3.7 million.

“Our goal has been that budget savings would be difficult to see, that they would not impact student or public experiences with the university,” Bachmeier said. “We’re proud of the efficiencies implemented and these efficiencies are perhaps a tiny silver lining behind a $13 million reduction of state funding.”

President Thomas J. Haas said in the meeting that GVSU continues to “operate within its means,” and said state allocation is being used exclusively for maintenance, debt and financial aid. Haas also called on Gov. Snyder and Michigan’s legislature to return what he believes the university gives to the community.

“In my testimony – year over year and particularly over this past year – I ask for, from the state, rationality, predictability and maintenance of effort for the scarce resources that the state has as it allocates that to universities like Grand Valley State,” Haas said. “It was noted by a legislature that GVSU was being punished for its accomplishments – publically, he stated this. GVSU has grown in enrollment and the number of grads, but for every additional student it enrolls, it gets an additional cut per student in appropriation. That’s irrational.”

Haas reiterated his promise to trustees, saying he would immediately cut tuition by 5 percent if the state agreed to allocate GVSU with the same level of funding as other state institutions.

[email protected]