What you should know about Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees will meet on Thursday for the second time this year, and the big item on the agenda will likely center around tuition and room and board rates for the 2015-16 academic year.

Tuition currently sits at $385 per credit hour for in-state undergraduates and $789 for out-of-state undergraduates. As CMU is quick to note in its press release about the trustee meeting, the university has increased its tuition rate at a slower rate over the last five years than other public universities in the state.

However, as the chart below shows, the average in-state, undergraduate student is currently paying $231.35 more per credit than her counterpart in 2004-05, just a decade ago. For a student who takes 15 credits per semester in the fall and spring semesters, that means paying an extra $6,940 per year on academics.

Source for data: Central Michigan University.
Source for data: Central Michigan University.

Last fall, CMU Insider ran a story examining the reasons for skyrocketing tuition rates. While rapidly decreasing state appropriation levels and a growing bureaucracy each play a role, so too did the CMU Promise, a former program that locked in a student’s tuition rate as a freshman for four years from the fall of 2005 until the summer of 2008. It was attractive for students at the time, but it also led to a rapid spike in CMU’s tuition rate, as the chart above shows.

More from Insider‘s “The CMU Promise’s costly legacy“:

The chart below shows that CMU’s tuition rate rose largely in line with the national average of four-year public colleges between 1993-94 and 2003-04, according to data adjusted for inflation compiled by the College Board. CMU’s rose at a 3.2 percent annual clip, compared to the national 3.7 percent rate.


(Click the chart to enlarge it.)

Nearly every public university in the country, including CMU, has had to adjust to a drastic drop-off in state funding over the last 30 years, and particularly over the last 10. That’s reflected in the College Board data, which found that tuition rose by 4.2 percent per year from 2003-04 to 2013-14, up from the previous decade.

CMU, however, saw itself increasing tuition at an annual rate of 7.6 percent. Considering that’s almost double the national average, it would be tough to say with total honesty that CMU found itself raising tuition solely as a way to counter shrinking state funds. As established earlier, the Promise years are responsible for a disproportionate amount of that increase, as tuition has risen at an annual rate of under 2 percent since 2007-08.

Had CMU’s tuition rate risen at a 4.2 percent clip annually from 2003-04 onward, students would be paying about $302 per credit this year, well below the $385 they pay today.

The good news for students, of course, is that tuition rates have gone up at a much slower rate since the Promise’s discontinuing in the fall of 2008. In fact, when adjusting for inflation, tuition has been somewhat constant since 2009-10, when CMU students paid an inflation-adjusted figure of $375.84 per credit for tuition.

However, with somewhat shaky finances and enrollment that’s down significantly from its peak just a few years ago, will CMU be able to keep tuition increases somewhat low this year? The answer will be found on Thursday.

Board of Trustees notes

  • Where: The President’s Conference Room on the third floor of the Bovee University Center.
  • When: 8:30 a.m.
  • Other notable items on the agenda:
    • A vote on a resolution that would create a committee that would review CMU’s online course programs and would compare them to those of other universities.
    • An update on notable facilities projects.
    • A vote on changes to the CMU Development Board’s bylaws.

Committee meeting notes

Five trustee committees will meet today between 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the President’s Conference Room at the Bovee University Center.

  • Policy and Bylaws Committee: 1:30-2:15.
  • Academic and Student Affairs Committee: 2:30-3:30.
  • Finance and Facilities Committee: 3:45-4:45.
  • Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee: 5:00-6:00.
  • Trustees-Student Liaison Committee: 6:00-7:00.

For more on what will be discussed at the board meeting and committee meetings, view the board’s agenda here.

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