Trustees vote to keep tuition cost below statewide average

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Photo of entrance to WMU campus.KALAMAZOO--Acting at its July 25 meeting, the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase of 3.91 percent for the 2012-13 fiscal year that honors Gov. Rick Snyder's tuition restraint request and keeps the cost of attending WMU below $10,000.

Go to wmich.edu/tuition for a complete breakdown of 2012-13 tuition and fees.

The decision will result in a $376 annual increase, effective fall 2012, for a Michigan student at the freshman or sophomore level, bringing the annual cost of tuition and required fees to $9,982. The tuition increase will provide needed funds to preserve institutional quality while keeping the cost to attend WMU $460 below the $10,442 average annual cost to attend one of Michigan's 15 public universities this year.

WMU will remain 10th in cost among all 15 of Michigan's public universities, 14 of which have now set tuition for the 2012-13 year.

In presenting the recommendation to trustees, WMU President John M. Dunn noted the cost disparity that exists among the state's five schools that have been designated research universities--the University of Michigan; Michigan State, Wayne State and Michigan Technological universities; and WMU. The range to attend a research university in Michigan runs from a high of $13,353 at Michigan Tech to a low of $9,982 at WMU.

"We continue to offer incredible value to our 25,000 students who are able to attend a research university and benefit from all of the resources and opportunities that entails--and at a cost that is more in keeping with a less complex institution," Dunn told the board. "Limiting a tuition increase to 4 percent, as the governor requested, is difficult, but we chose to recommend an increase that was even a bit lower than 4 percent because it is the right thing to do for our students and for our state as we work together to recover Michigan's economic vitality and potential."

Dunn noted that providing such value comes at a cost to the institution and its employees. He pointed to WMU's status as one of the most leanly staffed universities in the nation, according to information compiled earlier this year by a national news organization.

"Our faculty and staff step up every day to provide the level of instruction and service our students need and deserve," Dunn said. "We will continue to find ways to make this work and trim already seriously stretched budgets."

The new tuition rates mean a full-time, out-of-state freshman or sophomore will pay $23,262 for the full academic year, while resident and nonresident graduate students will pay $479.57 and $1,015.75 per credit hour, respectively.

For undergraduate students, the term "full-time" refers to students who carry 12-15 credits per semester. Students who take more than 15 credits will be assessed a per-credit-hour cost for each credit above the 15-credit level. Students who take fewer than 12 credits pay on a per-credit basis as well, with the per-credit-hour rate set at $316.03.

Although WMU received a small increase--2.31 percent--in state appropriations this year, the University is still working to manage the impact of last year's 15 percent cut as well as nearly a decade of earlier state cuts, University officials say. Even with this year's tuition increase, budget reductions and cost avoidance measures will continue. Along with the tuition measure passed at the July 25 meeting, trustees approved an operating budget of $358 million for the 2012-13 year, which includes nearly $4.2 million in targeted budget reductions.

Previous budget reductions have focused on preserving academic quality while reducing nonacademic expenses. The University has been recognized as a national leader in campus energy conservation and regularly attracts facilities personnel in higher education and the corporate world to the WMU campus in Kalamazoo to showcase best practices.

WMU offers more than 240 degree programs and has a student population of more than 25,000 students, with more than 20 percent of them enrolled at the graduate level. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a "high research" university, WMU is one of fewer than 200 such universities in the nation.

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