ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan is offering free tuition to in-state tuition for families earning up to $65,000, the university announced at its Thursday, June 15, Board of Regents meeting.
UM President Mark Schlissel surprised the audience inside the Michigan Union by announced the creation of the Go Blue Guarantee to kick off the meeting Thursday, prior to the Regents’ vote on the budget for the upcoming year.
Schlissel became emotional when talking about the opportunities the initiative would afford for low and middle income families after the Board of Regents approved the budget with a 7-1 vote.
“We now guarantee those with the most need can afford a University of Michigan education,” Schlissel said. “The Go Blue Guarantee cuts through the complexities of financial aid to help us reach talented students from all communities in our state. I’ve always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not.”
“I think about the seventh grader in Ypsilanti or Detroit or Grand Rapids whose mom or dad can say to them, ‘Work hard. Do well in school. You can go to the University of Michigan,'” Schlissel added. “There are a lot of folks now that can’t really say that because they don’t know if they can afford it. Now there’s a whole rising generation in our state that can aspire to our great university. I’m extremely, extremely proud of that.”
The “Go Blue Guarantee” provides four years of free tuition to students with a family income of up to $65,000, within certain asset limits. The $65,000 benchmark is roughly equal to the state’s median family income of $63,893 (2015). These students also may be eligible for additional aid to cover non-tuition costs.
Interim Provost Paul N. Courant, the university chief academic and chief budget officer, said the “Go Blue Guarantee” is based, in part, on first-year results of the HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) scholarship.
The HAIL effort found that targeted communication and simplifying the aid application process for high-achieving, low-income students markedly increased the number of those students enrolling at U-M. There were 262 HAIL Scholars in the fall 2016 freshmen class. The HAIL pilot is now in its second year.
This means financial aid in the coming year will more than cover the $424 increase in the most common lower-division, in-state tuition for the academic year that was approved in the general fund budget for fiscal year 2018. The university also provides need-based financial aid to out-of-state students and meets full financial need for those students from families with incomes up to $90,000 a year.
UM also approved a 2.9 percent hike for undergraduates and a 4.5 percent increase for out-of-state students.
The increase puts freshman tuition and fees for Michigan-residents at $14,826 in the lower division – up from $14,402 in 2016 – and $47,452 per year for non-Michigan residents – up from $45,410 last year.
To combat increases in tuition, UM has approved double-digit percentage increases in financial aid in nine of the last 10 years.
UM Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald noted prior to the meeting that undergraduate financial aid budget has increased 11.3 percent per year, on average, over the past decade. This compares to an average annual growth rate of 4 percent for in-state undergraduate tuition during that time period.
UM’s Board of Regents approved a 10.8 percent hike to financial aid for 2016-17, providing $15.6 million additional dollars to students in need among nearly $160 million in total financial aid for undergraduate students.
This story will be updated.