The SVSU Board of Control this summer increased tuition nearly 5 percent for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Board members at their June 18 meeting set tuition for in-state undergraduate students at $343.60 per credit hour, which was a 4.98 percent increase of $16.30 per credit hour. In all, undergraduate students taking 30 credits will pay a total of $10,308, up from $9,819 last academic year.
Despite the increase, SVSU will continue to be the lowest priced Michigan public university.
Board of Control Vice Chair John Kunitzer said the university will use the increased funds for faculty salaries, financial aid and functional areas within the university.
“Modest compensation increases for faculty and staff are one area where the increased funds are directed,” Kunitzer said. “Additionally, university-funded financial aid was significantly increased by nearly $2 million, a 14 percent increase over the prior year. There also continues to be funding needs for technology initiatives and maintenance of our buildings and grounds.”
Although tuition increases place extra burdens on students, J.J. Boehm, the director of media and community relations, said increased funds are needed to enhance students’ educational experiences.
“We know that any tuition increase can present a challenge for students,” Boehm said. “I have spoken with students who are working to pay their way through school, and I understand the challenges they face. At the same time, we want their SVSU degree to carry value when they are applying for jobs, and that requires strategic investments.”
Kunitzer believes that increased tuition does not correlate with lower enrollment due to the availability of financial aid.
“If it were as simple as lower tuition correlates with more students, our enrollment would be higher, because SVSU has had the lowest tuition in Michigan for many years,” Kunitzer said. “We recognize that financing a college education is a challenge for many students and families and can be a barrier to attending college. That is why we have worked hard to expand financial aid, maintain low tuition and operate the university efficiently.”
The lack of state funding is the main cause of the tuition increase, the officials said.
“Despite modest increases in recent years, state support now only provides 25 percent of our overall budget compared to past support in the 50 to 75 percent range,” Kunitzer said. “This has resulted in shifting the cost of an SVSU education onto students and families much more than has historically been the case and what we would like to see.”
Boehm agreed that state funds are an issue.
“State funding has not kept pace with inflation,” Boehm said. “When the freshmen arriving this year were born, the state covered more than half the cost of an SVSU education; now it is less than a quarter. Most students are unaware of this shift, but it is one significant factor.”
Unless states increase university funding, students can expect tuition to increase in the future.
“We as a board keep students in mind at all times,” Kunitzer said. “Barring a significant increase in state funding, students should expect tuition to rise somewhat, but we are committed to remaining accessible while preserving a high-quality education.”