Study rips state for higher tuition, lack of support for higher ed

First, the bad news: Michigan is underfunding its public universities relative to other Midwestern states, leading to students paying higher tuition and taking on more debt than their equivalents in Indiana or Ohio. So says the Michigan League for Public Policy, a progressive-leaning advocacy group in Lansing.

Adjusted for inflation, Michigan’s public-university tuition has increased by 100-150 percent since 2003 and today stands as sixth-highest tuition in the country, writes Peter Ruark, senior policy analyst, in the League’s report, released today.

The findings are the latest shot across the bow in a debate that extends beyond Michigan: Whether budget-minded, conservative legislatures in state capitals like Lansing are to blame for rising tuition (and student debt) at public universities, or are universities also at fault for bloated administrative expenses that contribute to higher tabs for students and their families?

According to the Michigan League, state tuition increases can be directly traced to declining state support. At the turn of the century, students paid around 40 percent of schools’ operating costs, but today, that figure stands around 70 percent in the state, the report states.

Consequently, not only do students pay more, they graduate with more indebtedness. Sixty-two percent of Michigan four-year college students graduate with debt, which averages $29,450. And low-income students in the state who qualify for Pell grants, the federal subsidy for higher-ed costs, find these grants cover a much smaller proportion than they once did. In 2003, the MLPP report said, the average Pell grant covered 40 percent of tuition at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and 66 percent at Saginaw Valley State. But by last year, the figure was below 40 percent at every public university in Michigan and less than 30 percent at U-M-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.

“Michigan needs to care about this,” Ruark told Bridge in an interview. “Post-secondary education is such an important part of workforce development. We can’t let college education be just an option for the privileged. It needs to be accessible to all economic levels.”

Are you ready for the good news yet? Michigan’s 28 community colleges, the two-year institutions that provide job training, certification and associate degrees, as well as a place to earn low-cost, transferrable college credits for eventual graduation from a four-year school, are a bargain.

While the MLPP report has Michigan’s average four-year public-university tuition at sixth-highest in the nation, its two-year colleges are at 34th, and lowest in the seven-state Midwest region, which besides Michigan includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Students here pay an average of $3,510 a year for community college tuition. That’s above the national average of $3,440, but well below Minnesota ($5,391), Ohio ($4,534) and others.

And given that nearly half of students at these schools are planning to transfer to a four-year school, it indicates a strategy toward making a bachelor’s degree far more affordable, and one that many students are already using.

Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, said the process of navigating from a community college to four-year degree to save money could be made more seamless, a policy objective the MCCA has been working toward.

In 2012, the Legislature made improving the transferability of community college credits a priority, and created a statewide committee to do so. The objective, Hansen said, is to give a “a psychology major who wants a bachelor’s from Michigan State” a clear path to getting there via a low-cost two-year degree that will transfer credits to that major at MSU. It’s the “to that major” part that sometimes trips up transfer students, who might find that fewer credit hours apply than they thought, going in.

“The process needs to be predictable, transparent and efficient,” Hansen said.

In general, community-college enrollment is “hilly,” he said, with trend lines that rise and fall with the economy. When jobs become scarcer and hiring slows, that’s when enrollment rises, as job-seekers or those who want more security in present positions arrive to shore up skills or add credentials. The state’s peak community-college enrollment came in 2012, when the state was about to emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Hansen said. But recovery – as well as a general demographic decline in high-school graduates – has brought a flattening. Michigan’s community colleges are also plagued by high dropout rates.

Why is a two-year school such a bargain in Michigan, relative to their four-year counterparts? It likely has to do with the state’s funding structure, Hansen said, which relies not only on state support and tuition, but also local property taxes, a framework that was set up in the 1963 state constitution. Other states have different funding mechanisms.

Beverly Walker-Griffea, president of Mott Community College in Flint, said in an emailed statement that “the disparity between tuition costs for four year colleges and universities and community colleges in Michigan could prompt more students to start their education at a community college. As people become more aware of the long term financial repercussions of college debt, they are looking for ways to achieve their academic and career goals without mortgaging their future.”

Back to School_2016

Back to the bad news

If there’s any more good news to be found, it’s that Michigan is not alone. State support of higher ed has been declining nationwide. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities reports 46 states are funding their public universities at a lower rate than before the Great Recession, and while some states, including Michigan, are beginning to add back support, it remains below pre-recession levels.

Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities, echoed the MLPP’s analysis.

“(The report) paints a portrait of where Michigan stands,” Hurley said. “It’s helpful in this era of term limits to have a third-party voice to communicate by the numbers what has happened and what the implications are.”

To state residents who see construction cranes erecting new buildings on the state’s college campuses and wonder where the money is coming from if funding is declining, Hurley said that many such projects are privately financed by donors and others; three years ago, real estate developer Stephen M. Ross gave $200 million to his Ann Arbor alma mater, for example, but designated that it be divided between the business school that bears his name and the University of Michigan’s athletic department.

“There’s a very good chance there are not taxpayer or tuition dollars paying for renovations and improvement,” Hurley said. “There is ample, ample evidence at the institutional level that universities have not passed the buck to students” as state funding declines, but have made cuts and found efficiencies in existing administrative frameworks, he added, although tuition increases have been part of the budget-balancing solution.

“I would never deny that tuition is going up, and that’s a direct inverse relationship between state support over many years,” Hurley said.

Members of the state legislature in funding appropriation roles could not be reached to comment on the report Friday, leading into the Labor Day weekend. After Lansing cut higher-ed support by 15 percent in 2011 as part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s first budget, the legislature has slowly increased funding.

In a 2015 education conference sponsored by the Center for Michigan, legislators and others defended state spending levels on higher ed, noting that the state’s universities were competing with many other dire needs as Michigan emerged from recession, including state infrastructure.

And while Michigan college administrators insist they are doing their part to keep costs down, some conservatives look longingly to the example set in Indiana, where former Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican who served as President George W. Bush’s budget director, has kept tuition flat for four years at Purdue University, where he now serves as president.

Purdue has also cut the cost of room and board by 5 percent, citing efficiencies in food service. Daniels has offered cash incentives to professors and administrators who can award a four-year degree in three years, and set up corporate partnerships, notably with Amazon, to offer more cost savings that translate to tuition relief.for students.

And in 2017, Purdue will open a STEM charter high school in Indianapolis, designed to be a feeder school to its university sponsor, that will deliver students ready to learn at a higher level and faster pace than they might have in the past.

A worrisome issue for residents

A year ago, the Center for Michigan found the issue of college affordability to be uppermost in state residents’ minds, in “Getting to Work,” a public-engagement campaign on career and workforce issues in Michigan.

Ninety-three percent of the more than 5,000 state residents engaged in community conversations or via polling said they believed post-secondary higher ed was important or very important to prosper in today’s economy, but 55 percent said it was only somewhat or not worth the cost.

Strong majorities identified tuition costs and debt loads as the most concerning issues in the state’s higher-education environment today. And more than half advocated the state boost funding to make college more affordable to students. But nearly as many said schools themselves should also contribute, and large majorities themselves should be more cost-efficient.

In asking for more from the state, they are in accord with the MLPP, which made increasing state support its top policy solution, along with increasing and improving financial aid for all types of students, including older ones retraining between careers. The League also advocated for increased overall support for low-income and non-traditional students, and stricter state oversight of for-profit colleges and training institutes, which generally cost more and graduate fewer students than their public counterparts.

Hurley said that while he recognizes that funding had to be cut during the leanest years earlier in the century, legislators have become “deer in the headlights” over any new revenue generation, i.e. tax increases, and that they need to consider long-term consequences for the state’s transforming economy.

“It’s incumbent upon (lawmakers) to be informed on the incredible return on investment that higher education affords a state,” Hurley said.

Bridge writer Ron French contributed to this report

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Tue, 09/06/2016 - 1:04pm
Why do these people feel it's so necessary to torture these stats like this? Anyone should question this "study" and the motives right off. It is clearly an attempt to inflate the financial harm by ignoring anyone who saves for college or uses community college to minimize expenses and ends up with no debt. Clearly a third of students are able to pull this off. But even at the $30k given the vastly increased earnings promised by the everyone should go to college crowd, what's the big deal? Sounds about like a car loan.
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 1:31am
Matt, It’s all about other people’s money. These people have shown no interest in the results/value that the money should provide. They have shown no concern about whose money they are spending or whether we should getting value for our money, they don’t even show concern for the value those moneys should provide the students, they only seem to see spending more and more of other people’s money. Neither of the college/university association heads mentioned anything about accountability of the programs/organizations the money will be spent on. Even the editor that wrote the headline and assigned the article made no effort to include anything about value for the students or taxpayers. If there had been any interest in helping readers to support more money from Michigan taxpayers there would have been data or at least questions about why the rising cost used to justify the demand for more money, there would have been data about the of graduates starting salaries, data about where the graduates were finding jobs, there would have been conversations about accountability of programs/institution spending this new money so taxpayer could have confidence of getting real results for the added spending. There are so many more things that would have been included in the article or if this was only a first part in a series of planned articles with succeeding ones being about value and accountability and results, about how they would be assured that things would really change. As much value as I have gained from my college education, I have learned that when the only thing talked about is money that becomes the purpose and, at best, all other activities fall to a distant second. When I spend my money I do out of trust. This article was simply one more bit of trust being chipped away.
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:53am
Our higher Ed system is a perfect picture of what you get with inflated demand and a big pot of subsidized money! Then followed up with difficult measurability and no accountability. Incentive Hell! Just wait until college is FREE!
David Waymire
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 10:19am
Duane, if you want to know about the general value of higher education (four year degree vs. two vs. high school), here is data on how much a degree means to YOUNG people...and it's even more valuable the older you get (just ask a welder laid off in the last recession who is still making less than he did in 2008, as the Bureau of Labor Stats data shows).' Bottom line: The value of a four year degree vs. a two year vs. a high school diploma has never been higher. The gap is widening. Of course, we all know's why no rich person today ever tells his children "no college for you...get over to the auto factory and apply for a line job." If you want to know about how Michigan universities are doing, you can learn more from the Business Leaders for Michigan Performance Tracker, hosted by the Michigan Association of State Universities. It shows that on virtually every measure, our state universities outperform their peers around the nation. This compares UM and MSU vs. the OSU/UNC/U of Wisconsin big research universities, WMU and Central vs. MAC like schools, etc, which is appropriate. article and study was focused on one basic item: Why is tuition so high at Michigan public universities? And the answer is extremely obvious. Because we have cut our support for college students in our state. Universities have made the (right, in my view) decision that quality is necessary if they are going to attract the best and brightest to our state, and provide our businesses with the best talent possible. Perhaps others would like to reduce quality, and have mediocre schools for their children and their businesses. I'm ready to hear their arguments.
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 9:19pm
David, You want to talk in 'general value', the reality is that education and its cost is about personal value. Potential students and their parents need to know the probable cost and the potential return so they can make 'informed' choices. I personally know the value of a four years degree [my wife, our 2 daughters and me all have earned such degrees, 3 BS, 1 BA with MBA], as they say I was the first in my family. I will tell you based on the degrees we earned while working, all have done much better then the statistics you link to. Do you truly believe that all college degrees provide the charted incomes or could it be degrees such STEM degrees, engineering have starting salaries of >$60,000/yr this year, might be a bit above your chart? Do you think that an BS engineer is having the same struggles with paying their student loans as a BA political science person is, on average? College degrees are not equal and simply touting a college degree is a disservice to the prospective students and their parents. How much more would you guess a STEM degree costs versus a liberal arts degree, how much more on average do you think the respective degree holder will earn starting or over a career? Do you think equivalent loans would place the same burden on all degree holders? Do you think taxpayers should be subsidizing degree programs that shift the payment burden from the student to taxpayers while other programs will better position graduates to repay the whole of their costs? The other reality is that which degree path someone takes will be more influenced by their commitment/persistence toward earning their degree than it will have to do with natural talent. An engineering degree will take more study time, more late nights solving problems to learn the material, more labs, and more analyzing than most liberal arts degrees, but the mental capabilities will be comparable. Do you still believe a college degrees are the same and which one doesn't matter to achieving your chart averages? Similarly the community college and specialized training programs that lead to a degree or certification have certain knowledge and skills that earn more than others that require similar classroom commitments. Some will even have higher starting salaries then four degree programs. Like the college/university degrees whether students succeeds or not will have more to do with their personal desire/persistence in successfully completing the program than the cost of said programs. As for the welder being laid off, are you suggesting that people with BA or BS degrees don't get 'laid-off' or simply lose their jobs because of economic down turns, business/company downturns, changing demands, changing employment markets? Using your welder, if they were working for GM or Chrysler do you think those same companies weren't letting go degreed engineers? It is misleading to people, especially those who haven't earned a degree, to suggest [as your chart does] that simply earning a 4 years degree will assure the degree holder of a certain average income. The reality is that to have a reasonable chance at financial success, each person earning a high school diploma will have to have additional training, they will need to develop marketable knowledge and skills, and most important of all, they must be willing to invested time and effort in to gaining the necessary knowledge/skills. But, simply getting a degree even from a four year college/university will not assure them of anything except the cost. They will need to find out what the actual income they may expect from a degree program will be, what the cost will be, and what they are willing to do prior to committing to their choice. Simply expecting taxpayer to pay more to colleges because of you charts is misleading, for just like life, college will provide value from an informed choice. As for your comparison of quality of schools it seems, from your link, Michigan schools aren't suffering because of current government funding. It seems a report out this week places U of M as the best public college/university in the nation, all with the funding you claim as to low. You seem so concerned about the quality of education at the institutions, how do you define that quality? To keep it simple, only focus on the undergraduate programs. Do you consider the accreditation process that such schools must pass as an indication of a minimum threshold of quality for degree programs? Or do feel that somehow a graduate from one accredited school will somehow be better prepared and a better employee if their school received more state aid? In my limited experience, I found the value of the employee was driven more by the individual than by the school they earned their degree from. As for the best and brightest, I am not sure what that means, but I can tell you that desire/persistence seem to have more impact than natural talent. I would encourage you to read "Grit; The Power of Passion and Perseverance" by Angela Duckworth. My concern/complaint with your approach to school funding is that it disregards accountability, it presumes that schools of higher learning are above reproach and shouldn't demonstrate the value a degree from their institution has proven to provide to students, you believe the public [whose money you want to spend] should give it on blind faith with no demonstrated return to them, you seem to hold colleges/universities insulated from the same performance expectations that the largest of businesses, their employees, and the individual taxpayers must meet each day so they will have the money you want them to give to colleges/universities. I was not one of those 'best and brightest' you deem so important the colleges/universities attract, but I can demonstrate the value that I gain from having earned my degree. What I learned after college was even more important, that is those programs/organization that aren't publicly held accountable squander their opportunities, waste the trust/funds they are given, and over time decay. I know the value of college, and expect all of your grandchildren will earn their degrees because they can seen the value it has provided their parents, but they have also learned they will be judge [paid] based on the results they deliver no just because they will have a 'degree'.
David Waymire
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:27am
A little more on this...BLM today is issuing its 2016 information. the state's major business organization: Rothwell said Michigan ranks 36th among all U.S. states for the amount it appropriates to its public higher education institutions. Even more alarming, our state is 8th worst in the nation for the amount of student debt our public university graduates carry with them after graduation. “That our public higher education institutions are achieving as well as they are speaks volumes about the innovative strategies and leadership capacity they share,” Rothwell said. “As a state, we simply must do better to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.”
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:43am
Dave, so going with this "study", you are saying that the degrees that our U. students are earning are of such low quality and irrelevance that they can't support a $30,000 loan payment? I'd suggest if this is the case we're looking at the wrong problem.
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:10pm
Just for clarity, the payment on a $30k loan over 20 years should be $150 to $200 per month depending on interest rate. I'd suggest most college grads spend more on coffee and craft beer.
Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:45pm
David, I struggle with your approach to higher education, on one hand you say it is the need for more money that is hindering our post secondary education system and on the other hand you say that same system is excelling because of low funding [it shows how 'great' the school really are]. I look at learning be driven by the student [a bottom up approach] and the system being there to serve the students and facilitate learning and helping them succeed. It seems your approach is that the system [properly funded] is what will drive student education [a top down approach]. I can see how your approach can be effective in leveraging knowledge across multiple systems/schools. I am concerned that such an approach overwhelms or even ignores the individuality of the student, they can be help to learn, and even cares nothing about if their degree even helps them to succeed [pay off their student loans]. My strongest reservation about such a top down approach and my hesitation in supporting requests for added funding are that those such as yourself seem unwilling to even talk about accountability of the schools and about school performance metrics based on the value students receive for their money and the state moneys the top down approach is 'requesting' [with the passion and one sidedness that seems like demanding]. Even your most recent link saying nothing about the personal value of the education [it mention more degrees but not the nature of those degrees or the financial returns they are receiving for those degrees] will help them achieve. As for the added research, that may help society and those who are doing the research, but the direct impact on the learning of necessary knowledge and skills for undergraduates is at best minimal. As the money is to flow unchecked/without accountability and the justification is about the schools and not the students results I don't see sufficient or even probable value for spending other people's money.
Kevin Grand
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:25pm
Echoing a comment from above, Ms. Derringer, exactly what have these institution of higher learning done to reign in their costs? UCS took a hard look at their budget and set spending priorities.EDPS, crunched their numbers and decided to open up their schools to out of district students.What has U of M, MSU, etc. done? Adding insult to injury, many of these schools are nowhere nearly as destitute as their supporters would like you to believe.MSU is sitting on a $2.5-billion endowment fund.U of M's is in the $10-billion range.When you're sitting on that kind of money, their pleading poverty is akin to Donald Trump asking for an EBT card! The numbers just don't work.
Peggy Kahn
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 1:11pm
Higher education in the U.S. has historically been seen as a public resource with widespread benefits for the society, not just a private investment in future personal income, and so has been publicly funded. It has also been seen as a path of upward social mobility, but as private costs rise, the more it reproduces social inequality and excludes people with potential but few private resources. People who have looked at the data note that college completion is related to funding and quality of K-12 as well as public funding of universities and is correlated with (results from?), as well as influences, state economic prosperity. WS24/7 ranks Michigan 33rd in the country (the following is pasted from that site): > Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.4% > Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.9% > 2014 median household income: $49,847 (20th lowest) > Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $48,731 (20th lowest) In Michigan, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 27.4% was 2.7 percentage points below the national rate. A typical Michigan household earned just $49,847, significantly lower than the median national income of $53,657. While low educational attainment is associated with low income in every part of the country, low educational attainment in Michigan is more detrimental to income than in most places. Michigan residents without a high school diploma earned only $18,457, a lower figure than in all but two other states.
Anna O'Connell
Wed, 09/07/2016 - 2:58pm
The reported average debt level of ~$29,500 is very manageable for a graduate of a BA or BS program in any field where there are jobs available. It's also manageable for someone who gets an AA and/or career certificate in a field like auto or aircraft mechanic, electrician, machinist, medical tech, pharmacy tech, construction, or nursing where there is significant demand for more workers. As Matt said above, $30k is the cost of a mid-size, mid-range new car, and instead of having to pay for it over 4 or 5 years, student loans may be paid off over up to 20 years. Better still, most government-guaranteed student loans are eligible for income-based repayment plans, where graduates pay a small fixed percentage of their after-tax income each month. Even better news, 30% of Michigan's students have zero student loan debt, and another 30% have less debt than the average cited. That's 60% of Michigan's recent college graduates who are sitting pretty, if only they can find a job that's better paid than they could have found without a degree. The people with the most serious problems centered on student loan debt are the ones sucked into for-profit programs of low quality, such as the now-closed ITT Technical Institute or the (still operating) Ross Career Institutes. The students are charged 2-10 times as much in tuition and fees as they would be at career education programs at one of Michigan's Community Colleges, and "earn" diplomas or certifications which do not lead to employment, especially not to the high-paying jobs they have been promised by these schools' advertizing. The Federal Department of Education is cracking down on many of these, as are the reputable accreditation authorities. A better way must be found to disclose the reality about these "schools" and others like them. The other set of people who have serious problems with student loans are the ones who are admitted to a college or university (either for- or non-profit) in spite of significant deficiencies in their high school academic records. They need remedial, high school (or lower!) level classes in one or more areas of math, reading, research skills and especially writing. It will take them at least 1 and maybe as many as 3 extra semesters to get to the level they need to be to prepare for their actual college classes. The longer they attend classes that don't give credit towards their degrees, the deeper in debt they get, and the less likely they are to ever graduate. In a significant number of cases, remedial students drop out without ever qualifying to enter, much less graduate from, competitive programs with good career prospects. Many, if not most of these students would have been much better served to stay in high school for an additional year, improving their academic skills without having to pay tuition, textbooks, lab fees, etc. Why do we force them out of high school without being "college or career ready"? What kind of state pushes schools to graduate high school students who read and do math at a 6th grade level in spite of normal IQs? The economically worst of all possible outcomes is for a student to go into debt to attend college, discover they can't do the academic work required or don't want to work in the field they first chose after all, and leave our institutions of higher learning with several years' worth of accumulated student loan debt but no degree. These are the students the college and university admissions policies should be protecting from parental and societal pressure to "just go to college and see how it goes". They need much better career and college counseling, taking into account their skill levels and interests along with the economy of Michigan and the rest of the country. Equally important, student loan policies should protect the taxpayers from some students' tendency to treat college as an opportunity to enjoy a prolonged and irresponsible adolescence on borrowed money. Loans toward a bachelor degree should be available for a maximum of 5 years of full-time schooling or 8 years part time education, and continued loan access should be contingent on passing at least 4 out of 5 classes unless the student or a family member develops a serious illness and must withdraw late in the term. Part time students who are working or have family obligations should be made eligible for government loans, including costs for child and elder care needed to attend classes, but again with a "fail more than 1 class in 5 and you lose access to additional loans" provision.
Thu, 09/08/2016 - 7:15am
It's easy to see the reason. When you increase corporate welfare the state has less money for education.
Chuck Jordan
Sun, 09/11/2016 - 11:25am
I wonder about the value of education. How do we put a $$ value on it? For some it is only about job training and employment income. I tend to think it is much more and the value to our society/country can't be so easily quantified. The problem with data and statistics is that we seem to want to compare them to personal (anecdotal) situations. What kind of country, state do we want?
Sun, 09/11/2016 - 6:01pm
Chuck, Life and school are personal, they aren't aggravated statistics and charts. If the individual doesn't have the means to related to the statics they are only numbers with little value. If you doubt that, consider on this day if events are simply number then with time they fade, but if people can relate to the event it will live on and carry lessons with it. You seem to be less than appreciative of using $$ are a means of relating to education. If you changed those $$ to time [the time/effort necessary for a person to gain an education] could you better see why people use $$. We each have a limited amount of time to spend living so why shouldn't we use $$? I openly admit that when I began my journey to a degree the $$ it cost and the $$$ I expected to earn after gaining that degree were significant factors that kept me on course. I will say that degree help be develop knowledge/skills that help me to be hired in an environment where I could use my mind to better my and my families lives. The better lives were more than the $$$ but those dollars help us to have choices to do things that helped us grow and create a board quality of life. If you truly would like to help others look beyond the $$ and consider an education/degree in a boarder sense, we could do that right here and now. We could start by identifying 5-7 categories that you and others have found an education impacts in our lives. Once we have those categories we could describe 5 levels of value people could use to identify the relative importance in their lives. We could create a weighting system for each category if you would like to distill it down to a single number. In either case with such a tool or relative index we could help people look at education/degree with a boarder view and ideally would find there is a greater personal value to a degree. What would you like to do, would you to test me and see if we can do it?
David L Richards
Mon, 09/12/2016 - 12:01pm
In considering this issue, you have to differentiate between the total dollars provided by any state, and the amount per student universities receive in state support. In most states even if overall state support is up, per pupil funding is down. This is because the percentage and number of students going to college has increased over the last several decades, so even if states have increased total support, on a per pupil basis (which is what universities have to deal with) funding is less than it was in the past, leading to tuition increases.
David Waymire
Thu, 09/15/2016 - 5:06pm
Duane, thanks for the lengthy and thoughtful response. I'll just note that the public universities have embraced the challenge of accountability and you can find a great deal of information at, by clicking on the "performance tracker" link. What those of use who lived in the golden age of state support for education forget is that we benefited mightily from that state support. And now we can help our children in ways that those who today do not have a degree cannot. Higher tuition frightens off many potential grads and their parents even before they can start the process of attempting to get scholarships. The idea of working your way through college, as many of our (i'm 60) contemporaries did is foolish, since the minimum wage is well below what it would have been if it had increased by the rate of inflation and since we have decided that higher education is no longer a public good. We will suffer as a state until we change that position. Of that I'm certain.
Fri, 09/16/2016 - 3:24pm
Mr. Waymire, If anything you have made the case [with the BLM Performance report] that I am too open to spending more of taxpayers’ money on colleges. I am afraid that I poorly explained my views, because you did not address my concerns or how important I believe it is for individuals to earn degrees [those degrees that have or expect to have higher market value]. The charts [exhibits 1,2, 7 & 9] indicate that degreed jobs and especially STEM degrees are in oversupply [computer and math degrees 100% oversupply in Michigan] while no degreed jobs are in are shortage [food service and grounds cleaning & maintenance ~70-75% in shortage]. If anything that would suggest that the product [degrees] are in oversupply and if the suppliers were in a ‘free market’ would be going through a period of rationalization [much like employment would if their industry was in an oversupplied market, think of the steel industry]. I wonder what the purpose those who develop the metrics used in the report, they surely weren’t thinking about the prospective student’s perspective nor the taxpayer perspective. As best I can tell a student and their parents are not looking at today they are looking at least four years out and more likely looking 30 or 40 or maybe 50 years or even a lifetime out. Nothing in this report look past a few years ago. With your ‘dream’ period for college funding, I wonder if you recall the whole of that period and what the competition for colleges was. It seems you are thinking about that time when the economy was nearing the end of the transition from a strength leverage economy to a knowledge leveraged economy , when a non-degreed person could go to work in Michigan and earn a ‘middle-class’ income, when primary/secondary/college professors were struggling to keep pace. Cost both in dollars and time [~4years] to maybe get a job that paid less than was being made with some overtime by a non-degreed person. Have you considered the choices a student with non-college experienced parents and peers that were making a good living had to make at that time? I will reaffirm the personal value my wife and I have gained from our degrees. My concern is that neither you nor any others even consider the issue of accountability; it is as if all in support of added spending of other people’s money are tone deft to the political uproar on the political scene. People doubt they are getting full value for their tax dollars. The current buzzword is transparency that means accountability. Why are the schools either afraid of accountability at the undergraduate level or do they see themselves as the ‘elite’ and above such things as private businesses have to do? Even my suggestion of creating an index for students/parents to use for deciding on whether to go to college was because I think that could be an effective tool for people to use in verifying the value of investing the money and time to earn a degree. I thank you for your time and effort to read, try to decipher, my comments, and to respond with added information. I do apologize for the length of all my comments; I presume there will not be a conversation so I try to include my reasoning for my view. Your message, "...since we have decided that higher education is no longer a public good.", projects a 'fortress' mentality that all outside the 'fort' of high education devalues a college degree. The only way to break that mentality it is to mingle with those you are trying to do battle with and listen to what they are saying and thinking. And then framing the discussion around their concerns not around the ;colleges' entrenched view. I have seen it work. What results do you want? Why? Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.-Albert Einstein