All of us you have or had children who attend or attended a Michigan college or university know quite well that the cost of higher education in Michigan is very high.  The increase in tuition, fees and housing over the last few decades has risen dramatically and much higher than inflation.

A study conducted by the Michigan League for Public Policy published in September of 2016 stated that between the years of 2003 and 2015 tuition at 14 of 15 Michigan public universities more than doubled and in some cases increased as high as 171%.

The study found that tuition at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant topped their list with a 171% hike in tuition rates.  I was also surprised to find out the as of the date of the study the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has had the lowest increase coming in at 91%.

Keep in mind the rate of inflation for the years the study reviewed was only 29%.  If that is true, why did Central Michigan University increase their tuition 171% and even the University of Michigan, with the lowest increase, come in at 91%.  Could it be these colleges are actually corporations who dictate their price according to the market?  Thus making them greedy as we are told other corporations are and why have we not heard condemnation of these colleges and universities from the same people who condemn other corporations and businesses as being greedy.

From the study, the percentage change in tuition between 2003 and the 2015/2016 academic year tuition prices per credit hour were as follows:

  1. Central Michigan University, 171 percent, $395
  2. Michigan Technological University, 158 percent, $595
  3. Wayne State University, 152 percent, $397
  4. Oakland University, 143 percent, $383
  5. Western Michigan University, 134 percent, $459
  6. Michigan State University, 132 percent, $454
  7. University of Michigan Flint, 130 percent, $414
  8. Lake Superior State University, 129 percent, $438
  9. Grand Valley State University, 128 percent, $461
  10. Ferris State University, 127 percent, $383
  11. Northern Michigan University, 119 percent, $400
  12. Eastern Michigan University, 116 percent, $348
  13. University of Michigan Dearborn, 116 percent, $447
  14. Saginaw Valley State University, 114 percent, $298
  15. University of Michigan Ann Arbor, 91 percent, $577

Mlive is reporting that Governor Whitmer floated an idea at MLive roundtable last week of phasing in income taxes paid by recent graduates of Michigan colleges and universities.

Speaking to college students she stated at that roundtable:

I think that’s an interesting potential thing to discuss with regard to keeping young people like you in Michigan, especially when you’ve incurred debt or put this type of investment into your skills -- which we need people with skills like yours

Governor Whitmer was interested in a proposed 5 year plan recently introduced by Rob Cleveland, president of Berrien County’s economic development organization Cornerstone Alliance.   He proposed this plan to combat what he calls a brain drain that is happening in our state, that being people graduate from Michigan colleges and universities and then move out of the state due to our high taxes.  He calls the plan HUGE standing for the Homegrown Undergrad and Graduate Education Incentive.

Under his plan a Michigan college graduate would pay:

  1. no state income tax their first year after graduating with any degree from associate to doctorate
  2. In the second year they would pay a 1% state income tax;
  3. the third they would pay a 3% state income tax
  4. the fourth year they would pay a 3% state income tax
  5. and the fifth year they would pay a 4% state income tax

Currently Michigan’s state income tax rate is 4.25%.

How about addressing the problem instead of the symptom?  The problem being the gasoline fueled rise of the cost to attend Michigan colleges and universities and not the symptom of increased debt.  Is anyone asking the question why Michigan colleges and universities have increased their cost anywhere from 91% to 191% over a period of time in which inflation only rose 29%?  Of course not, why would anyone ask such a silly question.

By the way this gasoline fueled rise in the cost to attend Michigan colleges and universities would only increase further from a 45 cents per gallon increase in our gas taxes.

The Live with Renk show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts call (269) 441-9595