Higher Education

College cuts out-of-state tuition by nearly half

February 7, 2017
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Students on Western Michigan University’s main campus in Kalamazoo, near the Chemistry Building. Photo via fb.com

A college in the region has made deep cuts to future non-resident tuition in an effort to make the school more competitive internationally.

Western Michigan University said last month it has voted to cap tuition and fees for out-of-state students, beginning with the summer I session in May, at 1.25 times the rate Michigan students pay. This is down from the current rate of 2.3 times the amount in-state students pay.

Tuition and fees

Although WMU has not yet set tuition and fees for the 2017-18 academic year, the school said the price tag for non-resident tuition and fees, if the numbers were based on the current rates, would be going down from $26,851 to $14,136 for freshman and sophomores and from $29,795 to $15,518 for juniors and seniors.

The move has no impact on tuition rates for Michigan undergraduate and graduate students. Resident tuition and fees are currently set at $11,493 for resident freshmen and sophomores and $12,599 for resident juniors and seniors.

Cheryl Roland, executive director of university relations at WMU, said current non-resident students will remain within the old tuition structure.

The new rate “applies to all four years of undergraduate studies for students enrolling in our summer I session or any enrollment period after that,” she said. “Current students will continue at today’s rate.”

Roland said currently enrolled non-resident students will continue to be eligible for the scholarships and financial aid packages that have helped trim the cost of attendance in the past.

Enrollment challenges

Jan Van Der Kley, VP for business and finance, said because of the previous high non-resident-to-resident tuition ratio, the university lost its edge against Michigan colleges and universities in states WMU targeted for enrollment growth.

Now, she said, taking the non-resident rate down to 1.25 times the in-state rate puts WMU in good position to compete for out-of-state and international students.

“WMU will continue to recruit any and all qualified Michigan residents,” Van Der Kley said, “But the declining number of Michigan high school graduates over the coming years means the university will need to target non-resident populations to maintain enrollment numbers that allow it to operate at maximum efficiency.”

The number of new high school graduates in Michigan is expected to plunge more than 18 percent by 2028, Van Der Kley said. With the decline already underway, she said, WMU has begun to boost its non-resident enrollment, but will need to recruit larger numbers of non-residents as time goes on.

Non-resident students make up almost 16 percent of WMU’s total student enrollment, a 10-percent increase from a decade ago.

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