Tuition cap idea may become law
State Rep. Sandy Caul says she wants Gov. John Engler’s tuition cap to become law.
Bill 1105, submitted by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Higher Education, may help steady tuition prices for the 2003-2004 academic year by suggesting an increase cap of 8.5 percent or $425, said Caul, R-Mount Pleasant.
The bill would apply to Michigan’s 15 public universities, she said.
For those universities who raise tuition above the designated amount, the Legislature will redistribute their portion of the $1.8 billion to the other 14 schools who kept up their end of the deal.
“CMU has agreed to participate with the understanding that the level of funding from the state would be the same next year as this year,” said Richard Morrison, Public Relations and Marketing senior officer.
Morrison said when Central’s Board of Trustees originally proposed the increase, it was with the understanding that the state would cut funding by 5 to 10 percent.
Caul said the focus behind the bill was to keep the price of higher education down.
“We felt it would be a good partnership this year to put a cap on tuition to keep education affordable,” said Caul, who chairs the subcommittee. “I truly feel the key to our future is education.”
This has been tried in the past, but it did not work, she said.
“We suggested to put a cap on tuition, and we did implement it for one of the next years. It said there would be a penalty of 1.5 percent of the base allocation they receive,” Caul said.
However, the Legislature did not penalize one university when it raised its tuition by 20 percent, she said, making the bill unsuccessful in its efforts to stop universities from their typical 8-percent to 10-percent tuition hikes.
Problems in the economy brought the three-year-old issue to the forefront, Caul said.
Parents are not receiving raises, incomes are declining or many are being laid off, forcing students to take on two jobs to put themselves through school, she said. Therefore, House members felt it was important to reapply the bill, this time keeping its promise.
“We needed to find a way that students don’t need to drop out of school for lack of finances,” Caul said.
Education and schooling should be viewed as accessible and affordable, she said.
“Not only did (the bill) receive support from my colleagues, but the 15 presidents (of the universities) agreed that if we would not cut any of the appropriations, but maintain their budget, we would not cut their tuition and they would receive caps of 8.5 percent or $425,” Caul said.
The House has not approved Bill 1105, but Caul hopes to have the bill approved to affect the 2003-04 academic year.
However, Caul said she hopes to see it approved soon, so schools can set their tuition prices and students can plan their budgets.
“If our students can’t afford to attend, what’s the point in having quality education and colleges?” she said.
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