The Wayne State University Board of Governors today unanimously approved a 0% tuition increase for undergraduate and graduate students for the 2020-21 academic year.
“It has been a difficult decision for the Board of Governors to freeze tuition for the coming year,” said board chair Marilyn Kelly. “Two of our most crushing worries have been, first, that in freezing tuition, the board forces the university to confront a budget shortfall of as much as $60 million. Second, we render the university all the more challenged to meet the goals we’ve set of making Wayne University an even better learning center for minorities and the financially underprivileged to gain a quality education.
“A tremendous amount of work has gone into this hard decision. Board members have met repeatedly on it, discussed it, weighed the pros and cons, again and again asked questions of the president and staff, and then considered their answers. I’m proud that my colleagues have acted responsibly in recommending the freeze, and I commend them for their leadership.
“I also commend President Wilson and his staff of senior administrators for their superior leadership and for their good judgment and many long hours of work in finding a clear path to lead the university in these intensely troubling times.”
Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson and his administration proposed the 0% tuition increase, but acknowledged that there will be some budget adjustments because Wayne State, like other universities, relies primarily on two sources of revenue: tuition and state appropriation. Depending on fall enrollment and the state’s higher education budget appropriation, financial models predict a budget gap of $20 million to $60 million.
“There will be some financial pain,” Wilson said. “It’s too early to say specifically what the budget deficit will be. There are still too many unknown variables. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last or its impact on enrollment and our state appropriation. However, there is hopeful news with enrollment, as numbers are ahead of last year, which saw our second-largest freshman class in history. This is a testament to the fact that Wayne State remains an excellent opportunity for students to get a quality education from a premier research university.”
Wayne State’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The administration will request approval for the FY 2021 budget at the Sept. 25, 2020, board meeting. Approving the budget at this time as opposed to June — as is customary — will provide more time to gather information and make projections.
Wilson said the fall semester will start as scheduled, and will have a mix of in-person, remote and online classes. The proportion of each will be guided by safety and science and will be shared by July 15.
Kelly said the move to avoid a tuition increase was another step toward easing Wayne State students back into normal operations with the least amount of financial concerns. “Not only will tuition be flat, but the university has a wide array of financial-assistance programs available to all students. We hope to help others face these unprecedented challenges by easing the financial burden on our students, many of whom work and go to school.”