Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by 2.94 percent for the 2014-15 academic year at Thursday’s meeting. The decision will increase tuition to $385 per credit hour for on-campus undergraduate courses.
Global Campus programs also will receive an increase in tuition. Students paying the standard Global Campus rate will see their tuition increase 4.6 percent, raising the per credit hour cost to $387.
Trustee Brian Fannon and other trustees raised objections about the differences between on-campus and Global Campus credit hour prices. The objection stirred an impassioned discussion between trustees about the merits of making online students pay more than those who attend face-to-face classes.
Fannon suggested trustees reduce the rate to $385.
“I’m struggling with why we would charge more for Global Campus,” Fannon said. “We keep talking about on-campus (and then those students not on campus). This should be the same college. We keep talking about being one college, and it’s a $2 difference.”
If the rates were the same, the university could lose $120,000 in revenue each year, said Barrie Wilkes, associate vice president of financial services and reporting. This difference in cost stems from the needs of Global Campus and its work to be seen as an integral part of CMU, not a separate entity, Wilkes said.
Board of Trustees Chair William Kanine said a factor in making the Global Campus rate higher had much to do with the financial and facility needs of the program around the country. These needs, he said, are more intricate than on-campus programs, including renting spaces to house facilities necessary to run classes.
After some debate, Fannon eventually agreed the $120,000 loss was not a burden CMU could bear, leading trustees to pass the increase.
“(That cost can equate to) a faculty position or an academic adviser position somewhere else,” he said.
Kanine said he was glad there was discussion of the differences. He said the board realizes it’s a balancing act for parents and students on the affordability of college.
“We want discussions,” he said. “It’s a good process where we can analyze it. Student success is the priority. It’s difficult to balance that (with appropriations.)”
The 4.6 percent increase on Global Campus will also affect active members of the military, raising costs for servicemen and women to $275 per credit hour. The board also approved a new tuition rate for veterans. The rate will make veterans pay $310 per credit hour.
“Traditionally we have charged (members of the military) the standard military rate,” said Provost Michael Gealt. “Veterans are compensated for the total cost. This would have no impact on veteran costs.”
The cost of the military and veterans rate, although less than that regular tuition rates, should not be seen as a slight to veteran or active military students, said Central Michigan University President George Ross.
“We are a military-friendly campus,” Ross said. “Ask the military. They list us as a military friendly campus. We’re one of the most proactive campuses with the military in the country.”
Room and board, graduate, CMED tuition rates also increasing
Students enrolled in graduate programs and the College of Medicine will have to pay more next semester, as well.
Graduate and doctoral program students will see their tuition increase by 4.5 percent. Master’s degree students will now have to pay $507 per credit hour, and, doctoral students will have to pay $583 per credit hour.
CMED, which opened its doors this year, will receive its first rate increase ever. The increase places CMED tuition nearly $5,000 more than the rate 2013-14 academic year.
Residential CMED students will now pay $38,522 per year and out-of-state students will be paying $71,659 in tuition. CMED’s inaugural tuition rates were $33,536 and $67,072, respectively.
Students living on-campus will have to pay more, as room and board rates will receive an increase of 2.76 percent. Living in a dorm in 2014-15 will now cost $8,780 per student.
Wilkes said the primary driver for new room and board rates dealt with a pending increase in enrollment. Wilkes said he hopes to see 5,700 students living on campus. The university’s room and board capacity is set at 6,000 students. If the university exceeds that number, Wilkes added, it would not be detrimental. However, that many students living in such cramped conditions is not an ideal.
Wilkes mentioned that an unwillingness to raise room and board rates could effect multiple areas servicing students, including campus food costs.
According to data provided at the meeting, CMU’s room and board rates are still less than other competing Michigan universities, such as Eastern Michigan University and Western Michigan University. EMU’s student housing costs $8,941, while Western Michigan University costs $8,943.
The new rates do not include the new apartment-type dorms, but on-campus apartment rates will be affected by the increase. A one-percent cost increase will be enacted for denizens of Kewadin and Northwest Apartments. Recently constructed graduate student housing tenets will have their rates increased by three percent.
Ross said he’s not worried about competing with off-campus apartments for students. Wilkes agreed with Ross, emphasizing that CMU’s resident halls will be full in the fall.
“Our grad student housing is over-booked,” Wilkes said. “(And our off-campus apartments) serve a different clientele.”
Ross defended the increases on housing. He said CMU still has the some of the lowest increases in tuition and room and board for Michigan colleges.
At present, CMU ranks 12th out of 15 other Michigan university’s in total cost of attendance for on-campus, in-state undergraduates, according to the Business Leaders of Michigan Scorecard.
Ross also used CMU’s reputation as having the lowest cumulative four-year tuition increase as evidence that the university is keeping the cost of education as low as it can.
“The low rates don’t speak to the quality,” he said. “We look at housing and room and board the same way.”