Poll: Voters back university funding pool

Michigan voters are supportive of state universities’ positive role in the Michigan economy. And they’re interested in looking at new ways to improve campus funding and accountability.

Those are key conclusions from a new Business Leaders for Michigan poll released today.

The poll of 600 statewide voters, conducted in January, found:

* 92 percent support for the notion that universities are important to new job creation in Michigan.

* 68 percent support for a pool of limited new state funding that universities could earn if they increase student retention and graduation rates and increase financial aid.

* 45 percent support for providing every college student in Michigan with $9,500 per year toward tuition and other costs.

After a decade of deep cuts, Michigan now ranks at the bottom nationally in public financial support for higher education. That sad distinction is getting new attention as new state budget hearings are about to begin in Lansing.

The poll comes on the heels of a February report by Bridge Magazine showing:

* Michigan universities are far more costly than peer campuses in other states.

* Big state funding cuts have played a significant part in rising tuition on Michigan campuses.

* Today’s tuition-paying students and families are dealing with the higher costs of tuition with an explosion of student debt.

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