Students will be reaching a bit deeper into their pockets to pay for tuition this fall.
The SVSU Board of Control approved a budget that included a 3.9 percent increase in tuition for the 2012-2013 school year, bringing the cost per credit hour to $270.65, a $14 increase from last year. Undergraduate students taking 30 credits will now pay $8,120 for a year’s tuition compared to last year’s cost of $7,815.
With the increase, SVSU is still expected to remain the least expensive public university in Michigan.
The university received an 8.2 percent increase in funding this year, adding an extra $1.9 million to the budget, and because SVSU met Gov. Rick Snyder’s incentive to keep tuition hikes below 4 percent, it may also be eligible to receive an estimated extra $600,000 if other Michigan universities follow suit.
Jim Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs, said tuition will still rise because the university is treating the extra funding as a one-time increase.
“We believe that increase will not be added to our base,” he said. “In other words, when we roll forward into our next fiscal year, it’s possible that that funding won’t be there.”
Because the university anticipates funding cuts to resume next year, it is limited in the ways it can distribute this year’s extra funding.
“When we developed our budget, we, in effect, did not match that revenue up with ongoing commitments like compensations for faculty and staff and utilities and so forth,” Muladore said. “We really were looking at our budget revenue flow based purely upon what we expected our student enrollment to be, and the rate of tuition.
“I can understand how some people can see the advertised increase, but the reality is that although we’re very appreciative of the increase, at this point in time it seems to us that in order to be prudent, our revenue stream needs to be adjusted, and the only area in which the university has flexibility is tuition.”
The money from the state will go instead toward the university’s capital operating budget, where it will be used to fund projects such as roadway resurfacing, parking lot resurfacing, infrastructure and electrical work and campus renovations such as the new student financial services center urrently being built in Wickes Hall.
This year’s tuition increase is nearly half of last year’s 6.9 percent increase, when state funding for higher education was cut by nearly 15 percent.
During the past three years, credit hours at SVSU have risen from $243.60 in 2010-2011 to $270.65 for 2012-2013, causing an increase in nearly $1,000 for undergraduate students enrolled in 30 credits.
The amount of money awarded through university-funded scholarships and financial aid will rise from $10.5 million to $11.2 million this year.
At this time, only two other Michigan schools have set tuition rates for the 2012-2013 year. Central Michigan approved a 1.96 percent increase in tuition to bring its cost per credit hour to $365, and Lake Superior State approved a 2.98 increase to bring its cost per credit hour to $397.50.
Director of Media & Community Relations J. J. Boehm said that the university is constantly trying to balance low cost with high value.
“SVSU has maintained the lowest tuition among Michigan’s public universities for many years,” he said. “At the same time, our students demand – rightly – a quality education, and that requires resources.”
Unfortunately for SVSU students, the price for that education will continue to rise.
“Regarding patterns in state funding, during my nine years at SVSU, the pattern has been relatively consistent: less,” Boehm said. “In 2003, SVSU received $3,986 per student. For the 2012 fiscal year, we received $2,665 per student. These are in actual dollars, not adjusted for inflation.”
As tuition increases, SVSU will continue to look for ways to keep education affordable for its students.
“We’ve been very actively engaged in cost saving-measures and cost-mitigation measures over the past several years in areas such as utilities, for example, where SVSU is, at least on a square-foot basis, the most efficient campus of the 15 public universities,” Muladore said. “That’s pretty significant in terms of our budget and budget savings.”
Additionally, SVSU is involved in collaborative purchasing programs with other universities to buy some supplies more economically, and has been re-engineering many of its administrative processes over recent years.
“For example, we just moved to the email communication policy this past winter, which is resulting in pretty significant savings in terms of postage cost,” Muladore said. “The student financial services center we’re constructing is an example of how we’re mitigating cost increases rather than adding additional staff, which is a budget issue.
“We’re not relaxing. We realize that, moving forward into the future, we have to continue our efforts even more diligently than we have.”