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WMU raises tuition, remains among state's best values

July 2, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Acting at its July 2 meeting, Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees approved a 5.7 percent increase in tuition and required fees along with a 7.5 percent increase of $3 million to the University's financial aid budget.

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The decision will mean a full-time Michigan freshman or sophomore will pay $8,382 to attend WMU for the 2009-10 academic year--an increase of $454 for the year or $227 per semester. The increase, which is effective with the fall 2009 semester, includes a $10 per semester enrollment fee increase dedicated to student health care. The tuition and fee decision guarantees that WMU will retain its position as the most affordable of Michigan's five research universities.

"As a board, we struggle with the need to keep our university accessible to the wide range of families we serve and at the same time preserve the value side of the equation--literally keeping WMU in a position in which it can deliver the quality education that brings our students here in the first place," said Board Chair Ken Miller. "It's becoming more and more difficult to do that as our state funding shrinks, and we continue to make budget cuts. The budget we've built includes an increase, but it is coupled with a commensurate increase in financial aid and another round of campus budget reductions."

In related action, trustees approved a University operating budget that includes a nearly $3 million increase to the University's financial aid budget to help offset the prospect of financial strain on students and their families. The budget also includes a $3.6 million reduction in state appropriations, $5 million in campuswide budget reductions and a one-time backfill of more than $1.7 million in stimulus funding.

Trustees approved the tuition and fee measure, noting that for the past several years, WMU has kept its costs among the lowest of all state universities. For 2008-09, the University was 11th in tuition and fees among Michigan's 15 public universities. Even with the approved increase, WMU is expected to retain its cost advantage over most other schools.

"Our students tell us that both the wide range of degree programs available and the quality of those academic opportunities are what they are counting on to secure their future," said WMU President John M. Dunn. "We've made a commitment to protect those attributes for our students, and we've made a commitment to both our students and our state to keep our budget as lean as possible. The new tuition rates and budget honor those commitments."

Although 2009-10 costs have not yet been set for all of Michigan's public institutions, WMU is expected to remain among the six or seven most affordable universities in Michigan, and it will be the only research university in that group. Michigan's five Carnegie-designated research schools are WMU; Michigan State, Michigan Technological and Wayne State universities; and the University of Michigan.

"We recognize the stress families are experiencing, and we will continue our focus on finding ways to move students to graduation in the quickest and most efficient way we can," Dunn said. "The Western Edge, for instance, is a degree completion compact we've been using for the past two years to accomplish that. We know the biggest savings for our students and their families will come from avoiding an extra semester or an extra year of tuition and housing while they complete a degree."

Dunn noted that in addition to the $5 million in reductions for 2009-10, WMU has enacted additional budget reductions and cost-saving measures totaling more than $50 million since 2002. Those include health care savings initiatives, buying consortiums to take advantage of large-scale supply and energy purchases, privatizing of some functions and position reductions. In addition, over the past decade, WMU has avoided more than $18 million in new energy expenditures through aggressive energy savings initiatives. Administrative overhead at WMU, Dunn pointed out, is the second lowest among Michigan universities.

"We will continue to take advantage of every opportunity to contain costs and streamline every operation, but we will protect our core mission of providing opportunities for our students to be successful," Dunn said.

The new tuition structure includes a tuition flat rate of $3,827 per semester for lower-division WMU resident undergraduates, along with per-semester full-time student fees of $364. The new fee structure includes a $10 per semester enrollment fee increase for student health care. Details of the cost structure for upper-division, nonresident and graduate students can be found at wmich.edu/tuition.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
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Western Michigan University
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