A fair compromise
The Board of Trustees did students well by keeping tuition increases low.
Although no student likes to hear that college tuition is steadily increasing with each academic year, Central Michigan University's tuition increase for next year is fair and manageable. Despite the cut backs in state funding, CMU's increase will only be at 4.6 percent as opposed to the state average of 5.24 percent. What's more, the Board of Trustees is taking the student's financial well being into account and increasing financial aid by $1.8 million.
The decision to increase tuition should not be much of a surprise, especially with Michigan's dismal economy. It is encouraging, though, that the Board of Trustees kept the increase lower than other Michigan universities, showing students that CMU is not set on just on making a profit but working out ways to keep higher education affordable.
Although nothing has been completely confirmed, budget cuts from different departments are being considered and reviewed, showing that the Board is exercising their resources. It shows that the burden is not being laid solely upon the students. Like the tuition increase, no one likes to hear that cutbacks will be made around a university, but it is necessary, especially when retaining and attracting students.
The increase in financial aid should not be overshadowed by the tuition increase. Most first-year students are awarded financial aid, encouraging students to continue their education. The increase in financial aid should be at the forefront of CMU's recruitment for freshmen in the fall, backed by the lowest tuition increase in the state. It is by far not as attractive as the CMU Promise, but it does let prospective and current students know that Central is still affordable.
Ultimately, the Board's smartest decision is not looking for quick fixes for a semester or two with simple tuition hikes and budget cuts, but looking at the bigger picture and planning for the next few years. As students with the CMU Promise begin to phase out of the university, the Board is keeping in mind that attracting new students will become harder and harder as state finances continue to dwindle. Tuition will most likely continue to increase each academic year, thus making it harder to retain students.
With a three-to-five year plan though, the Board can hopefully make adjustments to any upcoming surprises, good or bad. Michigan is in dire need of an educated workforce, and higher education seems to be the focal point for reaching this goal. Students should also understand that universities are businesses, and, like any other business, needs to turn a profit in order to be operable.
The Board of Trustees is undoubtedly making difficult decisions that won't make everyone happy. But by addressing these problems with gradual changes and sacrifices, CMU can continue to be a university that delivers to its students.