MURRAY: Eastern Michigan students celebrate tuition freeze

May 20, 2010
Dave Murray

Eastern Michigan University students celebrated their school’s decision to hold the line on tuition and fees hikes at an all-campus picnic Thursday, and gathered for a photo — with a message.

EMU photographer Randy Mascharka took the shot from the roof of the Ypsilanti campus’ Student Center.

Eastern President Susan Martin told me last month that she knows the university is taking a risk by not asking students for more money at a time when state aid could be slipping and busing expenses continue to rise.

“This is the worst economy in my lifetime,” she said. “People are struggling and so many of them are out of work. We thought that as a public university, we needed to step up and do what we can. It's a risk. We've borrowed a lot of money. But I think we can do this.”

The gathering of EMUs — Eagles, technically — comes weeks after Grand Rapids Community College leaders approved a 5.9 percent increase in tuition for in-district students.

Grand Valley State University, which has raised tuition by 5.3 percent and 13 percent in the last two years, won’t set the new rate until July. But leaders there say they’re looking to see what happens with the state appropriation.

The state House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee voted Wednesday to freeze overall funding for the 15 state public universities, but added money for scholarships. The state Senate has called for a 3 percent cut for colleges.