Booher calls for more transparency in college tuition

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LANSING—State Sen. Darwin Booher introduced legislation that would require community colleges and universities to post online the total amount of tuition dollars received from students and how many of those dollars are used to provide financial assistance to other students.

“It is not a secret that the cost of higher education continues to rise,” said Booher, R-Evart. “However, what might not be known is that the money a student or parents pay for an education is often helping pay for another student’s education. 

“The Constitution provides universities with flexibility on how tuition dollars can be spent, so they can decide to reduce the amount or even stop spending tuition in this manner.  While the Legislature cannot prohibit the spending on certain things without changing the Constitution, we can require that the use of tuition dollars be more transparent and easily accessible. This legislation accomplishes just that.”

Senate Bill 559 would require a community college and university to post on the institution’s website any tuition dollars it receives from one student to provide grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or loans to other students.

Depending on the community college or university, the use of tuition dollars for other students ranges from 0 to 26 percent.

“The governor has recently been discussing the need to address the cost of higher education,” Booher said.  “Steps need to be taken to address the rising cost, but we also need to make sure parents and students know how their tuition dollars are currently being used.  Many students and their families have to get loans to afford college—to be paying back debt for their own education is one thing, but to be paying off debt for other students adds a new twist to the discussions on tuition. 

“I doubt many students realize that up to 26 cents of every dollar they pay is going toward other students, when other funds could be used instead, such as university endowments.”

For Fiscal Year 2010-11, university endowment funds totaled more than $10.4 billion, with the University of Michigan Ann Arbor alone having $7.7 billion.

SB 559 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 


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