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More students suffer because of tuition increases

Michigan State University’s tuition increased by 1,650 percentage points in 34 years and will increase another 2.974 percentage points next year, according to the Office of Controller Student Account Website.

From 1979 until 2013, tuition at MSU went from $24.50 to $428.75 per credit hour, according to the Office of Controller Website. The Transparency Reporting stated that tuition will increase an additional $12.75 per credit hour for resident undergraduates, $40.50 for none resident undergraduates, and and approximate 4 percent increase out of the $428.75 – or $17.15 – for most other students for the 2014-2015 school year.

This additional increase will generate $839.2 million in total tuition revenue, according to the budget development overview in the reporting.

Students said this increase in tuition is hurting them now and will continue to hurt them consequentially and Assistant Director of the Budget Planning and Analysis Richard Geiersbach said MSU takes into consideration how the increase may affect its students.

“While tuition adjustments are required to preserve quality and to compensate for declining state appropriations support, MSU consistently seeks alternatives to adjustments first and pairs tuition with equal or greater increases in financial aid,” Geiersbach said over email, quoting the MSU Budget Information Website.

Geiersbach said over email that the Office of Budget Planning and Analysis would not be able to do an interview or provide any “qualitative or subjective responses.”

The numbers on the Student Account Website showed that the tuition increase is not something new and has been coming from a long time ago, according to MSU Economics Professor, Policy Expert and State and Local Public Finance Expert Charles Ballard.

“The causes are mainly political. The revenue is constrained and decisions had to be made on what to spend on. But school has lost so much!” Ballard said.

What has won out have been prisons, which Michigan spent about $2.8 billion last year, according to Ballard.

“Did we have to cut higher education funding out? No. It was the choice our political leaders made. They could’ve put an emphasis on education instead of other things,” Ballard said.

Because of the constant increase, MSU has made it a priority to try to increase its funds for financial aid, MSU Associate Director of Financial Aid Val Meyers said.

“If the cost of tuition continues to go up for whatever reason, we will continue to try to raise the financial aid that is given to students,” Meyers said.

According to Meyers, students can find the application for financial aid on their website and students will be asked to provide information such as student and family income, their plan to pay for college and more monetary information necessary to decide if a student is eligible of receiving the aid.

From the $839.2 million in total tuition revenue, MSU will increase the financial aid budget by 4 percent from this year, spending $4.6 million. Another $3 million will go toward Framework programs – $2 million for academic competitiveness initiatives ad $1 million for ongoing EBS operations.

Ballard said he had to take out loans while in college and finished paying them on his 30s.

Grace Rozanski, an elementary education sophomore, said she pays for college from money she has saved during her whole life, student loans and also by receiving financial aid.

“I have to pay for college by myself, so those were the only options for me besides getting a scholarship,” Rozanski said.

By working since she was 16, she said she has saved an amount of money between $18,000 to $20,000. All of that money goes toward college expenses.

To help with the expenses, Rozanski said she receives $2,300 of financial aid per semester, but it is not enough to keep her from getting loans. She takes out around $7,000 to $10,000 a semester, while her total tuition cost is a little over $6,000 per semester – but counting room and board, her college expenses totals over $12,000 a semester.

“Higher tuition means more debt and more years of being in debt. It’s all bad news,” she said.

Rozanski said she will pay off her loans “slowly and steadily” by working her career and hopefully a night job.

“I see myself in debt for the majority of my life,” she said.

Creative advertising sophomore Melody Stokosa does not pay for college herself. Even though her parents pay for it, she said she does not want them to have to pay more than they already do.

She said her college expenses totaled $11,308.25 this semester – tuition being $6,431.25 or 56.9 percent of the total value.

She said she does not see why the tuition increase is necessary, because students are “already breaking our banks to fund our education.”

“I think it’s unfair that we have to pay more to get a decent degree. Obviously the tuition increase is going to hurt my parents, and in turn me, because I have to help support myself,” Stokosa said.

Since she started attending college, Stokosa said money has gotten tighter around her house, and if tuition keeps going up she will still attend MSU but have more long-term consequences.

“I might have to take out a student loan, or even work more hours to help my parents pay for it,” Stokosa said.

Ballard said that students have suffered from the tuition increase and sometimes they do not even give themselves the opportunity to have a college experience and get a degree because of it.

He said there are many other factors that are part of the decision of not attending college, like family situations, personal thoughts on college and more, therefore it becomes hard to collect data only on tuition increase.

“There is no exact data on how many students drop out or do not attend college due to an increase in tuition, because of the other factors that go into the decision-making process, so it’s hard to separate and find the exact percentage that dropped out only due to tuition,” Ballard said.

He said he once told a student who was doing poorly that he knew the student could do well. Ballard asked “what happened?” and the student replied by saying his brother a $50,000 debt due to student loans, and that the student himself was working over 40 hours a week at a convenience store and would fall asleep in class.

“Students don’t know how good they are and won’t even try, because they don’t have money. They won’t have the education they could’ve had,” Ballard said.

“College educated earn more than not college educated people and even though the income gap has always been there, it has greatly increased,” he said.

According to Ballard, the state of Michigan has been trying to keep students in Michigan once they graduate and want people to also move here after they graduate in other states.

“The policies anti-education aren’t helping people who want to raise families in the future want to come here; it’s difficult,” Ballard said.

Donald Heller, Dean of the College of Education and tuition, costs and enrollment expert, said he predicts tuition will continue increasing in average or lower than average amounts.

Heller said that the search for methods to pay for college is crucial in the process of applying.

“A lot of it comes down to making wise and smart decisions on how to search and get the help a student needs to pay for college,” Heller said.

Heller said that the main focus of the Capital Campaign – a campaign to raise money for specific projects – is how to find money to support students.

“It is our number one priority and it will recognize students and parents that aren’t being able to afford [the cost of college],” Heller said.

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