Michigan Lawmakers Attach Strings to State Higher-Education Spending

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

After several years of budget cuts, state lawmakers in Michigan gave higher education a 3-percent increase for the next fiscal year. But what some state universities have to gain from the budget may be lost in the cost of new restrictions meted out by legislators.

Doug Rothwell, president of Business Leaders for Michigan, in Detroit, said the increase in higher-education spending was a step in the right direction but fell far short of the state's needs. Lawmakers will have to put an extra billion dollars into higher education over the next decade just to make up for the cuts in recent years, said Mr. Rothwell.

Higher-education spending was cut by 14 percent in the previous fiscal year and has fallen by more than 19 percent over all from 2007 to 2012, according to data from the Grapevine Project at Illinois State University.

The increased money will vary by institution based on improvements in graduation rates and research spending, or by granting more degrees in certain high-need areas.

And in order to qualify for that money—a tiny sliver of the $1.4-billion appropriation—institutions also will have to limit tuition increases to 4 percent or less.

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