U-M class teaches students how tuition is spent; students have mixed opinions on CMU offering same course

What if you had an opportunity to answer the question, "Where is my tuition actually going?"

About 50 students from the University of Michigan now have several different answers to this question, thanks to a class offered by the Ann Arbor-based school.

According to an article in The Detroit Free Press, the course, UC 270, teaches students how the university budget is spent, focusing on the thousands of dollars worth of tuition paid annually by students.

Carrie Falls, an economics professor at Central Michigan University, said a class like that being taught at CMU would benefit students but not the university.

"I definitely think (the class would be in) the best interest of students, because they have a right to know exactly where their tuition money is going," Falls said. "If a student pursing a degree in accounting discovers how much of their tuition is going toward the new medical school, they would most likely become furious."

Falls said a program like this would place needed pressure on the university to become more responsible and transparent with financial concerns like the annual budget.

"Student tuition money shouldn't be going toward something that isn't going to benefit their time spent here at CMU," she said.

The class offered at U-M is worth one credit and lasts seven weeks. The cost of the course is the same credit hour rate for all undergraduate courses and counts toward many students' academic programs.

According to the article, the course is taught by Provost Phil Hanlon, the ranking academic officer at the school who is in charge of Michigan's $1.6 billion budget.

According to the 2011-12 Undergraduate Bulletin, CMU currently does not offer a class of that nature.

Adrian sophomore Jacob Adams said he would definitely be interested in taking a class like this if CMU were to offer one.

"It would  be really interesting to find out exactly where my money is going. I know I'm spending all this money, and then one day I wake up and see CMU spent more than $500,000 for a new website design," Adams said. "Sometimes I'm curious how CMU gets the money for these projects, and if a new website is what I'm spending thousands in tuition for."

Other students don't see the benefit in spending money to learn about the university budget.

"I think it's an interesting idea, but I probably wouldn't take (the course) unless it was free," Ypsilanti sophomore Julia Stier said. "However, it definitely would be nice to find out where my money actually goes."

Saugatuck senior Jenn Fisher said she wouldn't be interested in taking a course like this.

"Why would I spend my money to learn about how my money is being spent? It sounds counter-productive," she said.

Fisher said she doesn't care exactly where all of her money is going at CMU.

"(My money is) going toward many different things and different people who I didn't even know existed on this campus in order to keep things functioning," she said. "In the end, no matter where my money goes, I'll still be paying back the same amount of loans regardless."



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