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NMU board OKs new tuition, fee rates

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees in a special Thursday meeting approved new tuition and fee rates for the 2022-23 academic year.

NMU will also invest an additional $900,000 in financial aid for students.

The combined cost for full-time resident undergraduates will be $6,324 per semester, an increase of $238 per semester, or 3.9%. Nonresident undergraduates will pay an additional $238 as well, while graduate tuition will go up by $24 per credit.

NMU Vice President for Finance and Administration Gavin Leach said the proposal was developed around a projected state appropriation, as the Michigan legislative budget process had not yet concluded. Other factors were an estimated enrollment outlook for fall, and escalating inflationary cost pressures for supplies and utilities.

NMU’s costs for students, he stressed, is second-lowest among the state’s 15 public universities.

“We’re in a very competitive position from a tuition and fees standpoint,” Leach said about NMU’s standing with other universities in Michigan.

This proposal allows NMU to budget around those pending factors while also making strategic investments that will enhance the overall quality of the students’ academic experience, Leach said.

Northern wants to invest more in high-quality faculty and staff, mental health and student support services, diversity initiatives, laboratories, existing and new academic programs, said Leach, who estimated the total projected investments and cost increases at $6.1 million.

However, the investments leave the university with a $3.1 million shortfall. Leach said that would need to be funded out of operating reserves.

“As we develop this plan, there’s still consideration of challenges that are ahead as the state budget has to be finalized,” Leach said.

He also pointed out that fall enrollment is unclear, although it’s “moving in the right direction.” He noted, too, that utility rates have gone up significantly in recent months.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the tuition and fees recommendation as presented, with Jason Morgan casting the negative vote. Morgan suggested if NMU indicated to the state that if it appropriates more money to the school, financial aid could be increased and/or tuition lowered.

Trustee Robert Mahaney said it was a commendable idea, but wants to see final numbers from the state before making a “conditional” commitment.

Mahaney, also chair of the finance committee, said, “I don’t like increasing tuition; it’s not something I take lightly at all and I feel for our students. As a board, we need to do all we can to keep it low and even freeze it whenever possible, as we’ve done once before during my term. But this year, there are strong headwinds against doing that. The state budget situation is number one. Other factors are inflation, wage increases in union contracts we have to honor, and a declining enrollment situation.

“Despite the increase being recommended, our tuition remains lower than most universities in the state, yet there’s no discounting the quality of a Northern education, and we should celebrate that.”

The full tuition and fee schedule for the upcoming academic year will be available at https://nmu.edu/tuition/.

In other action at Thursday’s special meeting, the board approved these personnel items —

— Director of development emeritus status for Jane Surrell of the NMU Foundation.

— New assistant professor appointments: Majid Asadi and Jaeseung Baek, College of Business; Danny LeBert, biology; Heather Mooney, sociology/anthropology; and Emily Romeo, history.

— Five-year contract extensions for these staff members who serve as department heads and professors: James Cantrill, communications and media studies; David Donovan, physics; Adam Prus, psychological science; Alan Willis, history; and Carter Wilson, political science.

— One-year contract extension: Jill Leonard, interim department head, biology.

— Transfers: Elizabeth Monske, to interim department head, English, a six-month appointment; and Steven VandenAvond, to associate provost and dean, College of Technology and Occupational Sciences.

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