June 27, 1997
KALAMAZOO--The Board of Trustees at Western Michigan University tabled a recommended increase in tuition and fees of $322.90 for Michigan freshmen and sophomores for 1997-98 until its next meeting July 25 to allow time for public comment. However, for the average WMU student, the increase would be $212.52.
The increase, effective this fall, amounts to less than $6 per credit hour in tuition.
"Any increase imposes a burden on our students and their families, and we regret this," said WMU President Diether H. Haenicke in recommending the increase to the University's Board of Trustees June 27. "Unfortunately, increased costs and our relative position in state support make this increase necessary.
"However, we intend to soften the impact of this year's increase as we have with previous years' increases," the president continued. "We will increase institutional funds for student financial aid by a percentage similar to the increase in tuition and fees."
The $322.90 increase is based on 31 credit hours over two semesters, the measure by which institutional costs are compared in Michigan, resulting in an increase of 9.7 percent for tuition and required fees. However, the average WMU undergraduate takes 25.6 credit hours over two semesters, resulting in an increased cost of $212.52.
WMU is the state's fourth largest and most complex public university, Haenicke told trustees. Yet its level of state support per student this year ranks seventh while its tuition and fees are 13th among the state's 15 public universities.
"WMU has consistently practiced great restraint in cost increases," Haenicke stressed. "Between 1993 and 1996, our costs increased an annual average of only $131 per student," Haenicke stressed. "This made WMU's increase the second lowest in the state over this four-year period.
"This means that with our quality and price, we are still one of the great values in Michigan public higher education," he concluded. "This increase simply helps us to maintain the quality of the product we deliver to our students, which in the long run is a smart investment for all of us."
He also noted that even with this year's increase, WMU still would qualify for listing in the recently published guide, "America's 100 Best College Buys." The guide, compiled by Institutional Research and Evaluation of Gainesville, Fla., profiles institutions that are highest rated academically but have the lowest cost for the college year. It means that costs at WMU are substantially below the national average.
Haenicke also pointed to increased costs at the University in explaining the need for this year's tuition and fees increase, including employee compensation, utilities, supplies and library acquisitions. Beyond that, he said, he hopes to allocate funds to important new initiatives, including additional faculty positions.
The increase in fees includes a boost of $25 in what formerly was called the computer fee, bringing the level of what now is called a technology fee to $75 per semester for fall and winter and $37.50 per session for spring and summer. Part-time students would pay $37.50 per semester and $18.75 per session.
This is the first change in the fee since it was established 10 years ago. The additional funds are needed to provide service, repair, new facilities, upgraded software, new equipment and support services, officials said.
The University also is establishing an infrastructure fee of $45 per semester and $22.50 per session for full-time students. The fee would be $22.50 per semester and $11.25 per session for part-time students. Several other state universities have similar fees.
The fee would help to cover the cost of repairs on buildings and other facilities, often called deferred maintenance, officials said. Most of the University's buildings are 25 to 35 years old and are in need of repair, for which state funding has been inconsistent and unpredictable.
Both the technology and infrastructure fees would be for students registered for on-campus courses and would be incorporated into the University's enrollment fee. With the changes in the fees, the enrollment fee per semester would now be $289. A student assessment fee of $8 per semester would not change.
Here are the proposed tuition rates per credit hour for in-state students, with last year's rates in parentheses: freshmen and sophomores, $98.75 ($92.85); juniors and seniors, $110.95 ($104.40); graduate, $141.75 ($133.40). Rates for out-of-state students are: freshmen and sophomores, $250.65 ($236.80); juniors and seniors, $281.75 ($266.30); and graduate, $344.60 ($325.65).
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