LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - A few hundred students from public universities across the state rallied at the Capitol midday Thursday to protest proposed funding cuts for higher education.
Gov. Rick Snyder's budget proposal would mean a 22% cut in aid to state universities, said Michael Boulus, head of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. If universities keep tuition at a certain level, they would receive a smaller, 15% cut.
Aaron Booth, head of Western Michigan University's Western Student Association, was among the protesters.
"We're Michigan's future," he told 24 Hour News 8. "And if you don't educate the future of Michigan, Michigan is just going to keep going on the down hill that it's on right now."
Among student concerns: the potential of fewer faculty members or programs -- and higher tuition.
"My worry is that a lot of students aren't going to have the opportunity to go to college or afford to go to college," said Jennie Hlady, a Grand Valley State University freshman who traveled to Lansing for the rally.
The governor's budget proposals are being debated in legislative committees.
Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, chairs the state House higher education subcomittee. The decisions ahead are tough for everybody, he said, but Michigan needs to cut spending to create more jobs.
"If we keep spending as we have been spending, you can get every college degree in the world and there's not going to be much out there for you," Genetski said. "If everyone gets a degree and gets them cheap but has to go to another state to find work, I don't know that we've done our jobs."
University presidents have said cuts could lead to higher tuition -- and 24 Hour News 8 wanted to know how current tuition compares.
Right now, a new student's tuition at Michigan's two largest public universities is higher than that of flagship universities in neighboring states, such as Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin (see below for exact tuition and fees).
As for state funding, a report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers group showed Michigan universities rely more on tuition than universities in nearly all other states.
Michigan ranks sixth-highest for tuition reliance in the country, according to the group's Fiscal Year 2010 report.
Committees may continue debates on budget plans, but no budgets are expected to come up for full House or Senate votes for the next two weeks.
Snyder has said he'd like to see all budgets in place by May 31.
2010-11 resident full-time tuition and required fees for one year at selected public universities
(Junior and senior students or students in certain programs may pay more, depending on the university):
- University of Michigan $11,837
- Michigan State University $11,205
- Western Michigan University $9,306
- Grand Valley State University $9,088
- Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison $9,050
- Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee $8,150
- Univ. of Wisconsin-La Crosse $7,688
- Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire $7,406
- Indiana University $8,124
- Purdue University $9,070
- The Ohio State University $9,420
- Miami University (Ohio) $12,198
Sources: President's Council State Universities of Michigan, university data Compiled by 24 Hour News 8
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