On July 9, the NMU Board of Trustees voted to raise the tuition at NMU. Tuition this year will increase approximately $205 per semester for resident undergraduates, $226 for non-resident undergraduates, and graduate tuition and fees will increase $28 per credit hour. However, students will not feel this increase until the winter semester. For this fall semester, tuition will only increase by $13 due to federal stimulus funding that has been applied to students’ tuition costs at NMU.
For geography professor and AAUP president Ron Sundell, this wasn’t an easy decision, but he felt it was necessary.
“No one really wants an increase … Certainly, the board of trustees and all those involved take it very seriously and deliberated quite a bit by trying to determine what kind of an impact this will have on the students. [This percentage increase] is a large enough one that will keep us moving in the right direction,” Sundell said.
Even after the tuition hike, NMU will remain the second least expensive university in the state. This was a point that professor Sundell stressed.
“It’s a modest rise in increase when you look at it. You also have to look at it in context with the other universities around the state. We still have one of the lowest tuitions of all the state schools,” Sundell said. “If we don’t fund ourselves in an adequate fashion, it’s just going to hurt students in the long run.”
Sundell also said the result of low funding from the state of Michigan is due to courses being taught less and a decrease in staff.
“One of our concerns is that we’re stretched thin, as far as faculty goes,” said Sundell. “If we can’t offer these courses as much as we should be (offering them), that causes students to spend an extra semester or two here and that costs them more, certainly more than a tuition increase.”
While the increase doesn’t sit well with NMU President Les Wong, he feels that it is necessary for a positive future for Northern.
“The tuition increase provides adequate funds to maintain education standards”, Wong said. “I don’t like the idea of a tuition increase, but I don’t want to give up the (NMU) experience.”
Board member Gil Zeigler was the only person to vote against the tuition hike, due to the current economic situation.
“Michigan has raised unemployment. One of the highest rates is in the U.P. I have had a hard time backing a tuition increase. There just isn’t enough money out there,” Zeigler said.
Sophomore Illustration major Joe Cornelia feels he has enough to pay for, and a tuition increase will make things tougher financially.
“The problem that I have with the raise is that I’m already paying a lot of money for the dorms and food”, Cornelia said. “That, and the fact that they make you live in the dorms for two years … that’s a lot of money out of my pocket.”
Junior Graphics Communications major Paul Bastien isn’t thrilled about the increase, but supports it because he thinks it will make the University a better place for students.
“As much as I don’t want to pay more, I’m sure Northern has something in store for campus, whether it’s new buildings, additions, dorms, or adding to the PEIF”, Bastien said. “Tuition will pretty much always go up. I’ve come to terms with that.”
Northern Michigan University isn’t the only state college to see more than a five percent increase in its tuition. All but one of the state funded universities raised their tuition this summer. Eastern Michigan was the only university who did not increase tuition. Grand Valley State rose 5.3 percent, while Saginaw Valley State jumped their tuition up 5.9 percent. But the highest out of all the state schools is Western Michigan University, with a 7.4 percent increase in its yearly tuition.
Nearly every board member agrees that the current state of the economy is not stable. President Les Wong points towards education as the solution.
“We will direct our own change”, Wong said. “Education is the way out of this economic turmoil.”