Republican Lawmakers Hint at Greater Penalties for Higher Tuition Increases

Jul 8, 2015

State Capitol - file photo
Credit Kevin Lavery, WKAR

State lawmakers could consider adding new penalties for universities that hike tuition above the state’s cap on tuition increases. 

This year, lawmakers set that cap at 3.2 percent. Oakland University this week decided to join Eastern Michigan University in blowing past the cap. OU will hike tuition 8.48 percent, and EMU will raise tuition 7.8 percent.

The universities will lose a portion of their state funding as a result – but will much more than make up for that with the higher tuition revenue. Republican state lawmakers are blasting the moves.

“I think five times the rate of inflation is out of hand. And it hurts students at Eastern and OU and it hurts the families of those students as well,”

said state Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville), who chairs the state House Appropriations Committee.

“You’re looking at the levels of debt that kids are taking on nowadays – this is a huge problem. It’s not just the bottom line of a particular university. We’re talking about access to higher education and the expense of higher education.”

Pscholka, who previously chaired the subcommittee that sets the state House’s higher education budget priorities, says he wants to have a discussion about adding new penalties when universities blow past the cap.

“We’ve got to look at putting some sort of teeth into our tuition restraint or having a conversation with universities about how we can better control costs,”

he said. Right now, colleges lose performance-based funding that is used specifically to encourage universities to stay below the cap. Pscholka says he’s open to the idea of cutting into universities’ base funding if they ignore it.

University officials say the big tuition hikes are partly the result of inadequate state funding. OU and EMU are both among the universities with the lowest tuition costs in Michigan.