By Jacquelyn Zeman – Chief Web Editor
Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a bill for increasing funding for Michigan colleges and universities. If approved, the proposal would direct about $250,000 in additional state funding to Grand Rapids Community College.
The proposal includes $1.4 billion coming in from the state’s general fund. In order to receive funding, colleges must not raise tuition any higher than 2.8 percent. Last year, colleges were held to a 3.2 percent tuition increase maximum to be eligible for state funding.
Dave Murray, Deputy Press Secretary to Gov. Snyder, said that the governor believes this is a critical step making college more affordable.
“We know that states that have the best trained workforce will attract and retain businesses creating more and better jobs,” Murray said. “Our universities are key in creating that high skilled, specialized workforce. We have world-class universities in Michigan.
“…First, we want to make college affordable for everyone who wants to go to college, that’s key. Second, the governor’s proposal includes performance goals for the universities…The goal should never be just spending money and measuring quality by how many dollars you give to someone. It is what people are doing with those dollars.”
According to Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, Snyder’s budget proposal for the 2015-2016 year includes a 1.4 percent increase for GRCC. This will represent an increase of approximately $251,000 for GRCC alone.
“To put that in perspective, our total general fund operating budget is approximately $105,465,000,” Freiburger said. “We are very appreciative of the emphasis the governor continues to place on the importance of community colleges and the fact that he has proposed an increase in funding. However, we will continue to face budget challenges, driven in large part by declining enrollment.”
A GRCC ad hoc budget committee completed a budget review in Jan. of 2015 generated a series of recommendations to enhance revenue and reduce expenses. Many of these recommendations will be implemented as part of the budget for next academic school year.
“We will continue to look for ways to reduce expenses,” Freiburger said. “While minimizing the impact on direct services to students, focusing on long term financial stability.”
There are things that the governor can do in order to hold universities accountable for part of their state aid. All of this includes tuition restraint.
“It is different for the community colleges and the four-year schools,” Murray said. “Right now in four-year schools in order to get the full state aid, they have to keep their tuition increase down at 2.8 percent…We think that’s fair. We want college to be affordable for as many people…who want to go there.”
Synder hopes to have a budget in place by the end of June, Murray said.