The University of Michigan will extend the Go Blue Guarantee ­— its landmark promise of four years of free tuition for qualifying Michigan residents — to the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

Beginning this fall, full-time, high-achieving in-state undergraduate students attending UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint will automatically qualify for the award if they have a family income of $65,000 or less and assets less than $50,000.

The Board of Regents voted June 17 to broaden the commitment to the two regional campuses during its meeting to determine the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. The expansion will not change the aid provided to students on the Ann Arbor campus.

“Our budget supports the families of our state and the academic excellence of our students by promising that outstanding students who work hard in their studies will be able to afford a Michigan education — on all three of our campuses,” President Mark Schlissel said. “I thank the many individuals in our community whose passion and commitment to affordability have helped us achieve this moment in the great history of the University of Michigan.”

The expansion to Dearborn and Flint will include budgetary support from the Ann Arbor campus for at least six years as the programs become established, and the guarantee will be a focus of fundraising in the years ahead. 

Schlissel said the initiative already has garnered support from donors, including a $1 million grant from the Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for UM-Flint students, and a lead gift from Kathy and Jim Hackett for UM-Dearborn students.

In addition to meeting the income and asset provisions, incoming first-time college students at UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint need a high school GPA of at least 3.5 to qualify for the Go Blue Guarantee and be eligible for up to eight semesters of free tuition.

Incoming transfer students at the regional campuses need a transfer GPA of at least 3.5 and will be eligible for up to four semesters of free tuition. Returning students at UM-Flint or UM-Dearborn who have not exceeded the semester limit as noted will be eligible starting this fall and must have a GPA of at least 3.0.

The GPA requirements align with student achievement on the Ann Arbor campus, Schlissel said.

“The average GPA of the Go Blue Guarantee students in Ann Arbor is over 3.8 and they all have 3.5 or above, so the academic standards are actually quite the same,” Schlissel said.

The Go Blue Guarantee is for full-time undergraduate in-state students. Both UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn will continue to provide significant financial aid for students who do not qualify for the Go Blue Guarantee based on individual need and merit.

Regents said it was the right time to extend the Go Blue Guarantee, which first launched on the Ann Arbor campus in 2018, to reaffirm the school’s long-standing goals of academic excellence and affordability.

“The Flint and Dearborn campuses are incredibly important to the university as a whole, and the extension of the Go Blue Guarantee to these hardworking and intelligent students is very well deserved,” said Regent Michael J. Behm, a Flint-area resident who chairs a board committee focusing on the regional campuses. “Thanks to President Schlissel and Chancellors Grasso and Dutta for working tirelessly to make a U of M education a reality for so many young citizens of the state of Michigan.”

Regent Mark J. Bernstein lauded the success of the guarantee on the Ann Arbor campus and said the action was a big win for students on all three campuses.

“Now, students from a majority of Michigan households have the opportunity to attend the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint for free,” Bernstein said.

During the meeting June 17, the board also approved a $2.4 billion general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus for FY ’22, which provides for:

  • A $15-an-hour minimum wage for permanent workers. Budgets for UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint provide for the same minimum wage increase on those campuses.
  • No increase in out-of-pocket tuition costs for most in-state undergraduates through increased financial aid for students with need.
  • More than a quarter of in-state students with the most financial need to attend tuition-free.
  • Expanding programs geared toward first-year students to also include second-year students who missed a traditional first-year campus experience due to the pandemic.
  • $29 million in ongoing savings through cost containment.

Regent Paul Brown said he was particularly encouraged by some of the investments that the university has made in its employees and in the Flint and Dearborn campuses.

“Since I joined the board a few years ago, we’ve increased compensation for all employees, including the just announced $15-per-hour minimum wage on all campuses, while increasing student aid,” Brown said. “We created the committee on Flint and Dearborn, and particularly through the works of that committee, we’ve now extended the Go Blue Guarantee to Flint and Dearborn.”

The budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 also allocates money to enhance student mental health and wellness resources, restarts merit pay increases after a yearlong salary freeze for university employees, and works toward addressing recommendations from the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality for the university’s plan to attain carbon neutrality.

Under the new spending plan, the in-state tuition rate in Ann Arbor will increase by 1.4 percent but will be offset by a 6.4 percent increase in financial aid — or about $15.5 million more than this year — that completely covers the increase for most in-state students with financial need.

The university’s use of modest annual tuition increases, paired with greater annual increases in financial aid, has resulted in no net tuition increases for most in-state undergraduates for more than a decade. U-M is regularly recognized by independent media outlets as one of the best values in higher education.

“Not only will most in-state undergrads see no change in their net tuition costs, we estimate that more than a quarter will pay no tuition at all,” Schlissel said. “And when students arrive in the fall, they will be able to enjoy a full campus experience, with excellent academic programs teaching the vast majority of classes in person.”

The general fund budget is part of an approved universitywide consolidated budget package that also included spending plans for Michigan Medicine, UM-Dearborn, UM-Flint, Athletics, Michigan Housing and a number of supplemental student fees.

Regents unanimously approved the measure. All budgets take effect July 1.

Regent Denise Ilitch described the spending plan as “a responsible budget, with strong cost containment measures in place,” and highlighted that there would be no increase in out-of-pocket tuition costs for most in-state students.

“The last year has been very, very difficult for students,” Ilitch said. “We have heard you, and we have heard your parents. This budget recognizes that, with more funding to support mental health, including wellness coaching and greater access to counseling services.”

The in-state “sticker price” tuition for the most common lower-division undergraduate rate, along with fees, will increase by $230, for an annual rate of $16,178. Tuition and fees will increase by $966 — 1.8 percent — for nonresident students, for an annual rate of $53,232. Tuition and fees are based on full-time enrollment, defined as 12-18 credit hours per term for undergraduate students.

Most graduate programs also will see a 1.8 percent increase in tuition and fees.

“I really think this budget moves the university in the right direction with prioritization of support for students and families that live in Michigan funded in part with a modest increase in tuition,” Regent Sarah Hubbard said. “The increase we’re experiencing this year is certainly one that is keeping our costs in line and providing some restraint in our spending.”

Regent Jordan Acker said he was happy to vote for a budget that keeps tuition stable for those receiving financial aid while implementing a “modest increase for those whose families can afford to pay.”

“Coming out of (one of) the worst years in our university’s history, if not the worst year, I’m glad that we can continue with smart financial management while keeping U-M affordable for Michiganders,” Acker said.

Students will see a 1.4 percent increase in the University Health Service fee to $205.22 per semester. A temporary $50-per-semester COVID-19 Health and Safety Fee collected this year has been eliminated.

In her budget presentation to regents, Provost Susan M. Collins characterized the spending plan as one that focuses on supporting the students, faculty and staff “who are at the heart of the university’s mission.”

“Approval of this budget invests in our students — their academic success, their well-being, and their engagement,” Collins said. “While these are high priorities every year, they are especially important this year as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Collins highlighted plans to expand the traditional first-year experience programming to include second-year students this fall. Many students shared that finding a community and developing a social life amid pandemic-related restrictions were difficult last school year.

Additionally, the budget provides funding to expand student mental health and well-being services, including peer coaching, wellness coaching and outreach efforts.

“Students’ mental health is a national concern that has both been amplified by the effects of the global pandemic and exacerbated by the pervasive impacts of systemic racism in our society,” Collins said. “This is part of a comprehensive undertaking to holistically address the health and well-being of our students.”

The budget supports faculty and staff by including contractual increases for bargained employees and modest salary programs for faculty and staff, as well as resources to boost the minimum wage for all permanent university employees to $15 per hour.

The plans follow a yearlong salary freeze for non-bargained employees that was put in place to cut costs during the pandemic. Additional plans to contain costs for the upcoming fiscal year are expected to generate $29 million in ongoing savings through efforts such as reducing the need to travel and increasing productivity by shifting to more virtual events, eliminating lower-priority activities and pursuing new programming to better utilize the U-M campus during the summer.

“We are working hard to keep costs down while also investing to protect and enhance the quality of the education and experience we deliver to our students,” Collins said. “Our sticker price rates would be significantly higher without these cost containment actions.”

The budget plan estimates no change to ongoing state appropriations, plus $6.6 million in one-time funds. This aligns with the budget recommendations proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state senate. A separate Michigan House of Representatives bill would result in a reduction of nearly $40 million for the Ann Arbor campus. The state, which operates on a different fiscal calendar, must approve its budget by the end of September.

Housing rate increases to cover maintenance, public health costs

Regents also approved a 3 percent increase for residence hall room and board rates for FY ’22. The increase will support future and current upgrades and maintenance in the residence halls, as well as the ongoing costs of public health measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The cost per student for a double room with a basic meal plan will total $12,592 for the fall and winter terms, an increase of $368. Need-based grant aid will mitigate this increase for students with financial need. Michigan Housing is a self-funded auxiliary unit of Student Life within the university.

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