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Wayne State's 4.4 percent tuition increase is offset by strong financial aid packages

WSU board takes action to support university's academic, research missions

June 23, 2010

DETROIT -- After intense discussion, the Wayne State University Board of Governors voted on Wednesday to increase tuition for resident undergraduate students by 4.4 percent. Members of the board expressed reluctance to raise the cost of attending Wayne State, but agreed that such action was necessary to preserve the university's fundamental strengths in scholarship and research in the face of rising costs and decreased state support. Wayne State's Student Senate unanimously supported an initial proposal for a 5.4 percent tuition increase, as well as the final 4.4 percent proposal approved by the board.

Wayne State's tuition will increase by approximately $11 per credit hour, or $133 per semester for students taking 12 credit hours in fall 2010. Even after the increase, Wayne State's tuition remains 13th among Michigan's 15 public universities, and is substantially lower than Michigan's other two major research universities, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Estimated annual costs for tuition and fees (24 credits) are $11,834 for the University of Michigan, $9,098 for Michigan State and $7,293 for Wayne State. Total annual tuition revenue generated by these universities also varies substantially. U of M generates approximately $1.016 billion from tuition, while MSU generates approximately $635 million. Wayne State's projected tuition revenue is $316 million for FY 2011.

To mitigate the tuition increase for those needing financial assistance, Wayne State is continuing an array of strong financial aid packages and scholarship opportunities. Key among these is the Board of Governors Scholarship, which was doubled last year in recognition of the difficulties the most financially challenged students face in the ongoing economic crisis. The enhanced scholarship, when combined with the Pell Grant, other grant funds and a student's expected family contribution, allows Michigan undergraduate freshmen to have all tuition covered without having to borrow. This also is true for continuing students if they maintain a 3.0 or greater grade point average.

The university also offers financial assistance to recently unemployed alumni and their spouses, with a 50 percent discount on tuition for two undergraduate or graduate courses with proof of job loss in the six months before enrollment. In addition, Wayne State's Aim Higher for Students fundraising campaign to support student scholarships has already exceeded its initial $10 million goal by more than $100,000, and the campaign is continuing. Over the past five years Wayne State has increased financial aid by 103 percent, including a projected 13 percent increase in the FY2011 budget. Three-quarters of the university's undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid, averaging $10,970. Freshmen who lived at home last year and received no family contribution for tuition attended Wayne State tuition free.

Through such efforts, Wayne State continues its overall tradition of affordability, while ensuring that students with the greatest financial need have access to a premier research university. This year, Wayne State raised its research expenditures by 10 percent to more than $253 million, which includes 63 grants equaling nearly $32 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - the second-highest National Institutes of Health total in Michigan. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching places Wayne State University in its highest category for research activity; Wayne State is one of only two U.S. urban, public universities to hold Carnegie's highest designations for both research and community engagement.

In the interest of fiscal responsibility the university has implemented permanent cuts in operating expenses of more than $50 million since 2002 through initiatives such as hiring and salary freezes, the streamlining of operations and strategic program realignments geared to recent workforce development trends. Since 2006 WSU has saved an additional $24.6 million through decreased expenditures for utilities, negotiated health care benefits, more efficient purchasing and other initiatives.

"We have become experts in belt-tightening and creative problem-solving," said WSU President Jay Noren. "It is just a fact of life in a difficult economy in which operating expenses continue to rise. No one wants to raise tuition, but it is necessary to do so if we are to ensure for our students the high-quality, research university educational experience they expect and deserve. At the same time, we are making a great effort to find innovative ways to keep Wayne State affordable."

In addition, the board approved a base tuition rate for graduate and professional programs of 4.9 percent, except for the School of Medicine, which had its rates approved at 3.0 percent. The board also approved an additional 2.0 percent increase for undergraduates beginning with the spring/summer term of 2011. The overall annualized tuition increase for undergraduate students who take courses in fall, winter and spring semesters in academic year 2010-2011 will be 4.7 percent.

In 2010-11, Wayne State intends to invest primarily in academic enhancements. These include increasing the number of full-time, tenure and tenure-track faculty; strengthening specific academic programs; and, increasing the number of graduate assistants to attract the best and brightest young talent to Detroit.

For more information on tuition at Wayne State, visit


Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.