CMU trustees raise tuition by 2.6 percent to $395, up $182 from 2005-06

By Arielle Hines

Most Central Michigan University students will pay $10 more per credit next academic year after the Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition rates by 2.6 percent for on-campus undergraduates.

The board, which met for the second time this year on Thursday, voted 6-1 to increase in-state, on-campus undergraduate tuition rates to $395 per credit hour for 2015-16, up from $385 this year.

The sole vote against the tuition increase was Trustee Richard Studley. He said he could not support a raise for because it is larger than the rate of inflation and thus puts too much of a burden on students.

“This increase is well-above the rate of inflation and falls the most heavily on our youngest customers,” Studley said.

The increase means a typical CMU student who takes 15 credits per semester will end up paying $5,460 more in tuition over the course of the academic year than a student in 2005-06, when tuition was $213 per credit.

However, CMU is quick to note the university has increased its tuition rate at a slower rate over the last five years than other public universities in the state.


While President George Ross said receiving less in state appropriations over the last decade is a big factor in tuition increases, it’s not the only one.

Part of the reason tuition rates rose so much in the last decade is 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.

While was a major selling point at the time, it led to huge spike in tuition, as CMU Insider previously reported:

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.


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.

However, since the Promise’s discontinuation in the fall of 2008, tuition has been risen at a much slower rate than during the Promise’s enactment. For instance, after adjusting for inflation, CMU students paid $375.84 per credit for tuition in 2009-10.

Also voted on by the Board of Trustees:

  • Undergraduate tuition for the Global Campus rose by 2.07 percent, up to $395.
  • Graduate tuition increased by 3.94 percent, making it $527 per credit hour.
  • Doctoral tuition increased by 3.77 percent to $605 per credit hour.
  • College of Medicine tuition will be $39,523 for in-state and $73,522 for out-of-state, up 17 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively.
  • Room and board rates were increased by 3.5 percent.

Keep in mind that the final budget from Lansing has not been given to universities. Therefore, the Trustees could vote to re-evaluate the increase in tuition in the future.

Other things discussed 

Online programs: CMU online’s program was recently ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report, and the university said it’s determine to keep that title.

While Provost Michael Gealt spoke at length about CMU’s success, he admitted there would be challenges in the future, including more competition and conflicts with students on campus who want to take classes online and faculty members who teach on campus that might oppose.

“Four or five years ago the challenge was coming from for-profit universities,” Gealt said. “That’s changing really rapidly. Our competitors in a lot of different way our just like us.”

The Board will present a report in November for a plan of action to keep the online programs on top.

Facilities Management: The Rose Pool was voted to be shut down by next summer. Barrie Wilkes, CMU’s vice president of finance and administrative services, said that it would cost $4.2 million to get it up to standards. Wilkes said he consulted with community leaders that the closing would affect before making the decision. The SAC pool will remain open but needs $2 million in renovation.

The $95-million Biosciences Building was reported as being on track and under budget. The $8-million lacrosse and soccer complex is also scheduled to be ready in August.

These two projects are two of several construction projects the university has undertaken since the turn of the century. CMU Insider previously reported that the university has spent more than $508 million in major construction and renovation projects since 2000.

The Board of Trustees will meet again on June 23.

Arielle Hines is the editor of CMU Insider. You can follow her on Twitter @theariellehines or email her at 

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