Board of Trustees approves undergraduate and graduate tuition increase



Tim Eggert

Returning to NMU in the fall will come at a higher cost for students following a decision made by the Board of Trustees (BOT) to raise tuition and fees. At its final formal session of the semester, held May 4, the BOT voted unanimously to increase undergraduate and graduate tuition rates for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Both resident and non-resident undergraduate tuition and fees will increase by $245 per semester whereas graduate tuition will rise by $24 per credit hour. Extension/online lower and upper division rates will go up $19 per credit hour for undergraduates, and will raise by $24 per credit hour for graduates.

For full-time resident under-graduate students specifically, the approved 4.86 percent increase translates into a new combined average cost of $5,280.50 per semester, or a total annual cost of $10,561.

“We appreciate that the state proposals again extend beyond the percentage-based tuition restraint language and include the hard dollar cap option instituted in fall 2017,” Vice President for Finance and Administration Gavin Leach said. “This enables lower-cost universities like Northern the ability to invest in initiatives to advance their goals.”

The change in rates coincides with the proposed Michigan Senate fiscal year 2018-2019 Higher Education Appropriation Budget, and Bill 857: Higher Education. Although students will pay more in the next fiscal year than they did this year, the higher rate does fall within the tuition restraints established by Bill 857.

In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, increases to annual tuition at state-funded universities could not surpass the annual tuition restraint, or “hard dollar cap,” of 3.8 percent or $475. According to Bill 857, however, tuition increases are limited to “the greater of 3.8 percent or $490.”

The BOT also approved Leach’s request to give university administration the ability to amend tuition and fees if the tuition restraint changes after the BOT vote, but before the final version of Bill 857.

Citing a 7.2 percent difference between the cost of living and university costs, Vice Chairman Steve Mitchell has “enthusiastically” voted five times on tuition increases, and extended the streak to six votes.

“I know that it has an impact on all the students, however, when you take a look at the Consumer Price Index going up 9.6 percent, we’re holding our costs at 2.4 percent,” Mitchell said. “I believe that [Leach] and President Erickson are doing a wonderful job at operating this fiscally conservative university.”

Chairman Robert Mahaney was the only other board member to comment on the tuition increase.

“This university has controlled its costs arguably better than any other university I’m aware of in the nation,” Mahaney said. “This does insure that Northern will maintain its position as an affordable institution, but it also allows us to continue to aggressively invest in these innovative new programs.”