Michigan public universities

The Michigan Union on the University of Michigan's main campus in Ann Arbor.
Andrew Horne / Wikimedia Commons

When University boards meet to vote on certain issues, the vote almost always goes through smoothly with little discussion and even littler debate.

Yesterday, I talked about the challenges the University of Michigan’s new president faces. One of those is, of course, the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford an education.

That provoked a lot of reaction, and I was surprised by the tone of a lot of it.

Specifically, many people feel that especially with the lagging economy, it makes no sense for students to study things that won’t clearly pay off in a job.

"There's nothing wrong with art appreciation. There are plenty of books, DVDs and YouTube clips out there," one man said. But he thought it was outrageous that someone would spend a vast amount of money on something "that will turn out to be a nice hobby," and then "complain about the lack of job opportunities."

Morgue File

In-state tuition and fees at Michigan's four-year public colleges and universities rank sixth highest nationally, with a Michigan average of $11,600 per year.

But state support for higher education per full-time student in Michigan ranks fifth from the bottom. State support per student is $3,962 in Michigan compared to the national average of $6,646.

That's according to data recently released by the College Board in a report on "Trends in College Pricing 2013."