NMU Expecting Rough Summer

Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees is meeting on July 8th and 9th.

That July meeting is usually the one each year where tuition is decided upon.

And many families are worried about a tuition hike.

NMU’s president wants to let people know today, before any decisions are made, what the school is dealing with.

President Dr. Les Wong says, being a public university, the funding formula is simple — it’s part state aid and part tuition.

He says anytime one of those is cut, the other has to make up the difference or drastic cuts would be the result.

NMU has had to endure state budget cuts every school year since 2002-’03, and this fill will probably make it 9 in a row.

The state Senate has approved a 3.1% funding cut, and NMU officials are expecting expenses to rise by about 2.5%.

Dr. Wong says a tuition increase looks likely, but he says the Board will work hard to keep it modest and not frighten families away.

He added that he’s frustrated and upset by decisions in state governments around the country to back off from education funding as a high priority.

Dr. Wong says it wouldn’t be accurate to call it an erosion — it’s more like a catastrophe.

He adds he recently learned that 20% of all families applying for financial aid this past school year have had to recalculate the amount of aid they sought because their financial situations turned for the worse.

Dr. Wong says the fact that the proportion was that high left him speechless.

NMU department heads have been asked to re-evaluate their academic programs to determine how to deliver the best return on investment.

Using the criteria the department heads come up with this summer, university officials will evaluate all academic programs starting in the fall.

The objective is to come up with 6 programs that might be discontinued and 6 others that could use substantial new investment.

Athletics programs will be re-evaluated as well, but Dr. Wong says the school risks losing NCAA Division II status if it makes athletic cuts of any substance.