Michigan—Like Ohio, But Somewhat Worse


The Michigan League for Public Policy has issued a report on the funding of public higher education in the state. The full report is available here: http://www.mlpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Back-to-school_2016.pdf.


Writing for Michigan Live, Brian McVicar provides this summary of the report’s most salient findings:

“Michigan has failed to adequately invest in higher education, and students are paying the price with skyrocketing tuition that has left many graduates awash in debt, according to a new report released today.

“The report, by the Michigan League for Public Policy, shows that state higher education funding-–when adjusted for inflation–-has declined by 30 percent since 2002-03.

“In addition, Michigan spends just $223 per student on need-based financial aid, an amount well below the national average and all but one other Midwestern state, the report says.

“Those factors, according to the report, are among the reasons why Michigan’s average student debt now totals $29,450-–the ninth highest in the U.S.

“’This isn’t just about college students and their families. This is about what we value here in Michigan,’ said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of MLPP. ‘If we value a college education, if we value a good, strong workforce, we have to fund those values.’

“Gov. Rick Snyder cut higher education by 15 percent in 2011, his first year in office, but he has increased funding incrementally ever since.

“Holcomb-Merrill says she’s pleased the state has increased higher education funding, but says more work remains to be done. The state, she points out, still pumps less into higher education than it did a decade ago. . . .

“In 2002-03, the state spent a total of $1.8 billion on higher education. By 2016-17, that spending had dropped to $1.3 billion (in 2003 dollars)–a 30 percent drop in funding, the report says.

“In addition to a “significant” investment in state higher education, the report calls on lawmakers to implement ‘stronger tuition restraint or tuition reduction strategies.’

“Tuition restraint caps were first implemented in 2012 by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature.

“Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities, said his organization has generally been opposed to the caps.

“In part, that’s because ‘there hasn’t been an adequate conversation up front in advance or early in the state budget process of what the universities would need in state operating support to keep their tuition within certain parameters.’

“Hurley said he would be OK with a stronger tuition cap if the cap did, in fact, come along with a ‘significant’ increase in state funding. . . .

“The report also calls on the Legislature to boost funding for need-based financial aid.

Michigan, according to the report, ‘invests far less in need-based grants proportional to its student population than most other states and has completely eliminated state financial aid for students over age 30 attending a public university or community college.’

“In 1991-92, the state spent $303 per full-time undergraduate student on need based aid. Spending had fallen to $223 in 2013-14, according to the report.”

McIver’s complete article is available at: http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/rising_tuition_unprecedented_s.html.


Writing for Bridge Magazine, Ron French explores “Michigan’s College Dropout Dilemma”:

“It was Wednesday of Welcome Week 2016 at Lansing Community College, and dean of student affairs Tanya McFadden was rushing from event to event. There was food, speeches and a live band.

“While students milled about the campus, McFadden had her mind on another group of students. Since 2012, about 2,500 students had enrolled at LCC, come within 15 credits or less of earning a degree, only to leave without a diploma from there or any other school.

“That’s the number of near-degree dropouts in just four years, at just one of the state’s 30 community colleges. And that doesn’t count students who drop out of Michigan’s 15 public universities, where only about half of students earn a degree in six years, below the national average of 59 percent.

“While Michigan is about average getting students into college, the state does a lousy job keeping them there long enough to earn a degree.

“In fact, 1-in-4 Michigan adults 25 or older have some college credits, but no degree, according to a Bridge Magazine analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s the highest college dropout rate in the Midwest. Nationally, Michigan ranks 28th in the percent of high school grads entering college (61 percent), but drops to 41st in graduation rates.

“All told, 1.2 million Michigan residents reside in the economic limbo, often over-qualified for high school-level jobs but stopped short of the qualifications needed for degree-required jobs. Hundreds of thousands of these adults are thought to be within a few classes of earning a degree. In some cases, they have enough credits for a credential and don’t know it.

“This lack of a degree costs them, on average, hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes, and hobbles the economic progress of the state as it scrambles to fill jobs that increasingly require a post-high school degree or certificate.

“Some states, such as Virginia and Tennessee, are aggressively pursuing initiatives to lure college non-completers back to campus. But Michigan, already below the national average in adults with bachelor degrees or higher (29 percent, compared with 31 percent across the U.S.) has no statewide program aimed at college dropouts, and no financial aid available for older students enrolling in community college or a public university years after high school.”

French’s complete article is available at: http://bridgemi.com/2016/09/michigans-college-dropout-dilemma/.


In another article, Bridge Magazine has provided an interactive map showing Michigan’s college dropout rates by county. It is available at: http://bridgemi.com/2016/09/map-college-dropout-rates-by-county/.



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