This year marks the lowest tuition rate increase for University of Michigan undergraduate students in nearly 30 years.
The 1.1% increase, or $148 per year for the average undergrad, puts U of M's in-state tuition at $13,142 per year. Out-of-state students will have to foot a slightly bigger bill. U of M regents approved a 3.2% for those students, which is an additional $1,270 per year, on average.
The university also marked another financial success for the upcoming term.
Financial aid has increased $13.7 million for undergraduate students. This means the net cost for students including room and board will not go up. For some students, the net cost of attending the U of M could actually decrease.
For out-of-state undergraduates, only those with families earning less than $20,000 were provided with packages to meet full need. Now, the university doubles the rate. If the family of an undergraduate student makes less than $40,000 a year, they are eligible for packages meeting full need.
Provost and Executive Vice President of Student Affairs Martha Pollack says the university has tightened its belt in order to make tuition cuts for students.
"For several years now, we have paid for all new initiatives out of reductions and reallocations. All of our new programs are being paid for by these reductions and reallocations, and we've been fiscally very disciplined," she said at the University regents meeting on June 20. "We don't start new things unless we can find something to stop doing."
The university has been working toward total tuition freeze for the past five years. Pollack says even though the school has received 2.2% more in state funding this year, that's not enough.
"We have done our absolute best to respond to incredible cuts in our support," Pollack said. "Every single year, it becomes more and more challenging. I understand that the state has been through a tough time, and I do feel the university has stepped up to do that. But we can't do this forever."
Pollack says through classroom rescheduling, heating and cooling upgrades, and small conservation efforts, the university has been able to shave little by little to keep tuition from increasing dramatically. She says they've been able to do that even with a series of construction projects and new hands-on learning projects.
On the other hand, the provost says the university also has had to make some unfortunate cuts to staffing.
The University of Michigan is relatively low on the list of tuition increases in the state of Michigan and among Big Ten schools. Eastern Michigan University raised its tuition by 3.75% June 18. Michigan State University is expected to increase its tuition by 2.8% at a budget meeting June 21.
But the University of Michigan still remains a high-cost university.
Caitlyn Kelly is a sophomore at the University of Michigan studying creative writing in the Residential College. She's originally from Arizona, and may have to take out over $100,000 in student loans to pay for an out-of-state education. "My family is just above the mark to receive financial aid," she said. "I came to Michigan because it has one of the best creative writing programs in the country. With tuition increases, I'm thinking about transferring to somewhere in back in Arizona."
While creative writing is Kelly's passion, she says she may have to change her course of study if she has to transfer for financial reasons.
-Alana Holland and Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom