Board of trustees raises WMU tuition, parking price

WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY — The Western Michigan University board of trustees unanimously approved a 9.9 percent tuition increase, beginning in the fall 2001 semester, at its July 6 meeting.

Tuition per credit hour will increase to $129.91 for resident freshmen and sophomores, $145.32 for resident juniors and seniors, $185.62 for resident graduate students, $321.78 for non-resident freshman and sophomores, $361.06 for non-resident juniors and seniors, and $441.83 for non-resident graduate students. Continuing education tuition will also increase, from $40 to $60 differential per credit hour.

With this increase, a full-time resident freshman will pay $2,249.65 in tuition and fees each semester for a course load of 15 hours, the state average. The cost for the same student in fall 2000 was $2,047.

“It’s important for the students to know that as a university we’re doing all we can to keep tuition at reasonable levels,” said WMU President Elson Floyd.

To accomplish this goal, the 2001-02 general fund operating budget approved by the trustees includes reductions of more than $2.6 million in the coming year.

“The budget decrease resulted in approximately $100 of tuition relief for students,” said WMU Spokesman Matt Kurz. “By taking strategic budget cuts, we were able to minimize the impact on students.”

Kurz said specific reductions will be primarily in the hands of the vice presidents.

“The president asked all the vice presidents to take 1.4 percent decreases in their budget area,” Kurz said. “Certain other items that were originally on the budget were taken off to help with the reduction.”

One difficulty in deciding how much to raise tuition rates was the lack of a final decision on state funding. The trustees based their decision on a 1.5 percent funding increase for the academic year, though the legislature has yet to make a final decision on appropriations to WMU.

“I’d be much more comfortable had we known what the state is going to do,” Floyd said. “We embarked on a strategy of reducing our own internal budget while keeping tuition levels as low as we could.”

The board of trustees also passed several other price increases. Among them was a rise in the vehicle registration rate for full-time students. Parking sticker prices will increase from $175 to $225 for the 2001-02 year. This is the first increase since 1999, when prices rose from $150 to $175. In February 2000, the Western Student Association negotiated a sticker price freeze with the university for the 2000-01 year.

WMU Vice President for Business and Finance Robert Beam said in a press release that the increase will help cover the cost of significant roadway and parking facility improvements, the operation of the parking system and the construction of two new parking structures located at WMUÕs Parkview campus.

Increases in room and board, and apartment rental rates were also approved by the board of trustees. The costs of meal plans for the residence halls will rise an average 8.8 percent. The 10 meal plan will increase by $468, the 15 meal plan by $373 and the 20 meal plan by $444 during the 2001-02 academic year.

Apartment rental rates for Goldsworth Valley, Stadium Drive Apartments and Elmwood Apartments will increase an average of 6 percent. One bedroom unfurnished apartments will increase from $434 to $467 in Goldsworth Valley, $448 to $467 in Stadium Drive, and $494 to $519 in Elmwood.

According to WMU Vice President for Student Affairs Theresa Powell, the higher rates are necessary to pay for increases in operating costs. Major renovations to the residence and dining halls will take place over summer 2001, including replacement of the Shilling Hall roof, renovation of the Bigelow/Henry/Hoekje residence hall dining room, and replacement of the elevators in Britton and Hadley halls.

Because of the increases in tuition and fees, the board of trustees, as part of the overall budget for 2001-02, increased the amount of financial aid available to students. Funds budgeted for financial aid will increase 8.5 percent.

“We’ve also increased our financial aid to compensate for [rising costs],” Floyd said. “That will virtually offset the tuition increase for students on financial aid.”

Among other business at the July 6 meeting, the board of trustees approved a two-year lease for a Subway in the lower level of the Bernhard Center, in the space formerly occupied by Lorinco’s coffee shop.

The board of trustees passed an estimated general operating budget of $241,531,740 for 2001-02. It includes an expected $125.7 million in state appropriations and $111.3 million in tuition revenue.

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