Senate, House higher education budget limits tuition increases, allocates more for student financial aid

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State lawmakers from both chambers came together Tuesday morning to finalize the state’s higher education budget, which draws them one step closer to completing the final Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Appropriation Subcommittee, said the core of this budget is offering relief to students and families.

“For the seventh year in a row, we have placed a cap on how much Michigan’s universities can increase their tuition,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This cap, coupled with a public reinvestment in our universities, has helped to keep costs lower than they would have been.”

The 2017-2018 cap is set at 3.8 percent. Any school whose tuition increase goes beyond that amount will relinquish a portion of their state funding.

Tuesday’s report also includes a significant increase in available funding for student financial aid. This year’s appropriation includes $127 million total funding for grants and assistance programs, a 15 percent increase from last year.

“I remain wholly committed to making sure students have access to a quality education,” Schuitmaker said. “As educational costs continue to increase, more families are struggling to keep up. I believe that any student who has the drive to continue their learning should have the opportunity to do so.”

Overall, the state’s 15 public universities will see an increase of $28 million in total operations funding, a 2 percent increase from last year. When coupled with the 15 percent increase in student aid, Schuitmaker says she believes this is a positive step for everyone.

“Since assuming my role as chair of the subcommittee, I have maintained my commitment to making higher education more affordable for students,” Schuitmaker said. “This budget provides more resources for our state’s universities to continue their excellent work, while also holding them accountable to who matters most: the students.”