University of Michigan Tuition Freeze

University of Michigan Tuition Freeze

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Dear University of Michigan Board of Regents,

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of us with family members being infected, some deceased, and a high economic recession impacting all over the world.

We want to express our concerns about the recently approved 1.9% tuition increase. 

During these unprecedented times, the recession has not just impacted Michigan residents but the entire US and the rest of the world too. As international students and representing many other out-of-state students too, we feel that an increase in tuition is unacceptable given that many of us don’t apply for financial aid, so any increase in tuition will be suffered by our families which in many cases have lost their jobs or seen a dramatic decrease of income. We at least deserve the respect from our university, which without our contribution simply wouldn’t be the same. International and out-of-state students add diversity to discussions and a global networking opportunity for all students.

Thinking that international and out-of-state students are wealthier and so they cannot suffer from a “de minimis” increase in tuition is simply plain wrong, they might not be covered by financial aid but still, sweat to pay for tuition. An increase in tuition will make many of us have no other option but to transfer or take a gap year. If it was that “de minimis” then the university would take it from their reserves, right? 

We are proposing a tuition freeze if not a decrease. The university recently approved a 1 billion credit line, and it has a 12 billion endowment, which is supposed to be used in these exact scenarios to reduce the impact on students. We recently got a new 500 USD per semester fee for being international students and now we are getting a 50 USD COVID fee and a 1.9% tuition increase. This is not time to add more burden to students who are already stressed and struggling. 

Many universities already announced a tuition freeze, why would they do that? Shouldn’t the university do some research and have all the information before deciding on such an important matter? The meeting for voting was supposed to be held on July 16th but instead, the university decided to suddenly come up with a special meeting making it impossible for students to speak before the regents’ discussion began as students need to submit a request at least one day earlier. Is this the example of inclusion, transparency, and unbiased decision making that the university is trying to teach us?

The value proposition is not the same as it was a year ago. We all know that studying online is not even as close as being able to share discussion in person.

Given that the value proposition is worse than before, the pandemic has decreased incomes of many if not most families, given the uncertainty on whether we will be able to complete the next semester. How can you even propose increasing tuition? Aren't we “Leaders and Best”?

Why would students, even if there wasn’t any recession, want to pay more when the university, due to the circumstances, would be offering less value? Have you thought about the message you are sending to students and their families?

In a recession, budgets have to be redone. Those who can afford the biggest burden should carry more of it logically, but not all of it, that’s an ignorant and impossible proposition, as it is simply not what is going to happen according to basic economics. The university thinks they are passing all the burden to international and out-of-state students, but that is far from being right. In the end, everyone will be affected, and more than if they had done the homework right on the first time. This is because there are no firm bases for the projections done.

As Regent Shauna Ryder Diggs said "I believe this period in our history isn't the time for a tuition increase. I feel that students who don't qualify for student aid will be caught in the middle. I think we should use the multiple levers (we have) to mitigate the impact."

We are calling for all students who will be impacted by the increase and those who have friends and family that will be impacted to sign this petition to get a decrease or differentiated tuition based on the format of classes. Otherwise, many of us will have no other alternative than drop this semester which will translate as a decrease in revenue for the university, lately impacting those who least deserve it. The university has done projections but they are biased. The context is not the same as before, and the willingness to pay has changed. An increase in tuition without a logical explanation and solid bases cannot be tolerated.