Skip to comments.Michigan Considers Free Tuition (What a terrible idea)
Posted on 03/09/2012 6:00:52 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Michigan Democrats have introduced a plan to pick up the tab for tuition at state universities up to $9,500 a year for every student who has attended Michigan schools for his entire K12 career. The plan is expected to cost $1.7 billion per year, or $442 for every household in the state. It is a dramatic change from the status quo currently, Michigan subsidizes its state universities less than almost any other state. And it is a terrible idea it is a handout to middle- and upper-class parents and students, as well as an incentive for unprepared students to attend college.
According to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Michigans colleges operate on a higher tuition/higher aid model meaning that relative to other states colleges and universities, they charge a high tuition to students who can afford to pay, but then offer steep discounts to students from low-income families. Using this calculator, you can see estimates of what a colleges tuition plus room and board costs for in-state students in different income ranges, once grants and scholarships are factored in.
For students from families earning less than $30,000, a year at the University of Michigan at Flint costs $5,400. For students whose families make between $30,000 and $48,000 (the latter of which is approximately the states median income), tuition averages $7,400. Even students from families that make more than $110,000 dont pay the sticker price of nearly $17,000; they pay a little above $12,000.
The flagship state university in Ann Arbor is also easily within reach for low-income students. No loan aid packages are available for the poorest students, and those from families making less than $30,000 pay $6,200 a year. Even if these students borrowed every cent they spent on higher education for four years no summer job, no savings, no help from parents their loan total would be around the nationwide average. Students from families making $30,000 to $48,000 pay $8,500. Students whose parents are in higher brackets, however, pay just above $20,000.
At Michigan State University, the Public Ivy school in East Lansing, prices are a little lower. Some other Michigan state schools are less generous, charging about $10,000 a year for students from families making less than $30,000 but this includes room and board, which commuting students do not need to pay, and even a minimum-wage summer job can offset a few thousand dollars of that cost. Thus, its very difficult to claim that a struggling Michigan student whos willing to take out some loans and work over the summer cant afford to pay for college under the current system.
Further, not only do lower-income students already pay less in tuition, theyre less likely to go to college in the first place, in part because they score significantly lower on standardized tests. Therefore, the main beneficiaries of a $9,500 tuition discount will be middle- and upper-class parents and students. In large part, it would seem, this isnt about expanding opportunity, but about buying votes.
Of course, the tuition that low-income students pay at Michigan state schools isnt negligible, and free tuition would encourage Michigan students across all income levels to go to college. But is that a good thing? There is considerable evidence it is not.
Its important to bear in mind that when a policy encourages more students to go to college, it is encouraging marginal students the students who arent sure whether college is worth it at the current price. These students are more likely to be insufficiently prepared for college, to drop out once they get there, and to learn little even if they do graduate.
Michigans high-school-graduation rate is only 76 percent, and even most grads are not college ready, judging by their ACT scores. (College ready means a score of at least 18 in English, 22 in math, 21 in reading, and 24 in science. These scores give students a 50 percent chance of getting Bs or higher in college-level courses, or a 75 percent chance of getting Cs or higher.) At only 40 high schools in the entire state are more than 30 percent of graduates college-ready, and at more than half of the high schools, fewer than 10 percent of grads are college-ready. With college readiness this low and with about 60 percent of Michigan high-school grads going directly to college as it is it is doubtful that expanding access to college will do any good.
In fact, based on the current performance of college students in Michigan, too many, not too few, people are going to college in the state. Only 59 percent of Michigan college students graduate within six years (which is similar to the national average); the number is as low as 32 percent at the lowest-caliber schools. To be fair, these numbers dont include students who start at one school and graduate from another, so they are a little low but there is no doubt that a substantial minority of Michigan students who start college dont finish, and that cheaper tuition will encourage even more students with dubious prospects to head to college.
One might argue that free tuition will help the dropout problem by enabling students to attend school without working; many dropouts claim that working while in school was too stressful. But college probably isnt worthwhile for marginal students even if they do graduate they learn little, and they dont seem to benefit much in the labor market. Last year, the much-talked-about book Academically Adrift presented the finding that nationwide, about 45 percent of undergraduates demonstrated no significant gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communications during the first two years of college. And about 40 percent of college graduates end up working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
Michigan students who are willing and able to attend college a small minority of the population already have ample opportunity to do so, often at considerable taxpayer expense. For the most part, tuition is high only for students whose parents have high incomes, and overall, the evidence indicates that there may be too many students already going to college. There is no reason to pour more money into the fantasy of college for all.
Robert VerBruggen (Twitter: @RAVerBruggen) is an associate editor of National Review.
Sounds like an idea that Obama would like.
It’s easy to give away money when it’s coming out of other people’s pockets. What a bunch of scammers. The people are getting scammed!
Wonder how graduates currently paying back their student loan debt feel about that.
I never claimed myself to be the brightest bulb in the box-—but how dumb does one have to be not to know that there is no “free” lunch or tuition..........
I think with all high end instate 4 yr insitutions of high note, the graduates tend to stay in state and really believe in the institution. Here in MI the whole U of M vs. State stuff in sports or even business is icky, almost inbred. If I had my druthers I'd have kids go somewhere out of State and really broaden their minds. Does this fosters them staying here, and if so to what avail? With that said would the Big 3 be better with more MIT or Cal Tech kids instead of them from all MI institutions?
On a Positive note.
"Pay Check Protection" FOR STATE UNION WORKERS has passed the House and Senate in Michigan and Governor will sign it.
Aren’t any jobs...May as well stick ‘em all in school...Keep ‘em off the streets...Keep the unemployment numbers down...
If you are going to demand a Federal Bailout - might as well go for Gold! Who needs personal responsibility, self-discipline and money management? Why, the Federal Gov’t apprently exists to reward the stupid people, by robbing the hard working and wiser people.
When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can be assured of always getting Paul’s vote.
Better to give the money directly to the state universities in exchange for lowering in-state tuition rates.
Time was, in Michigan you could work a minimum wage job and pay for college. Not anymore, and it's due to the eroding state funding of universities.
“Only” $1.7 bil a year.
Call Washington and have them print a few more Baraqqi/Bernanke minibucks.
Heck, lets do it for the whole country.
The Michigan “Free Lunch” Democrats are once again greasing the tracks for the Obamanation Express Engine to drag America into the bottomless pit of DEBT.
BTW, isn’t Michigan where “Free Lunch” Government Motors is headquartered? Probably just a coincidence - - - .
I think they do something like this in Wyoming, with higher subsidies for those with higher grades in high school, but nothing for anyone with below a B average. Big difference is that Wyoming has the money to do this, and no state income tax.
The republic will last only until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.....................
How on earth does the cost of tuition go up or down depending on the income of the family enrolling?? Are the low income people being subsidized by the higher income people? What is the real cost of this education? The answer is NOBODY knows because government has screwed this up so bad it can't be fixed. Now they have run out of games within the schools so they are going to everyone including people that don't even have kids to pay for this broken system.
They have played the income redistribution game and the government worker out of control salary and benefit vote buying game to the point that the true cost of any part of this system could never be known. The only answer is to get government OUT of the education business.
The only system that works (and for you libs, the only system that is truly fair) is this. You pay your bills and I'll pay mine!
In a word, "No". Why? I think I'm a typical example; why did I go to school at South Dakota State University? Well, I was paying $40/credit hour while the tuitionin Texas was less than $10. But, the reason I went there was that I was fresh out of high school, my parents lived 15 miles away - and it was convenient.
As an adult, and in retrospect; I would have been MUCH better off going somewhere else - with better equipment, better teachers, a better reputation, better contacts, better campus, co-op opportunities with major corporations and lower tuition (not to mention more and better looking girls).
So, say you graduate with a hard science degree in Michigan - with the bill paid 100% by the Michigan taxpayers. Now what? Where are the jobs? Hint: they aren't in Michigan.
paging all illegal aliens, the place to be is Michigan.
Ooooo, a nice double whammy slam by the Dems.
Note, homeschoolers need not apply.....
Perhaps it’s just a recognition that today’s batchelor degree is worth no more than a high school diploma from 1962 and should tax supported like K-12 education.
I was in a discussion with someone on Facebook regarding the Fluke/Rush/contraception funding thing. This person really seemed to think that if the government prints it, it's their money. When I realized that they didn't understand where wealth came from or what money was, I defined a few things for him, quoted Jefferson and de Tocqueville and said bye-bye.
RE: Note, homeschoolers need not apply.....
But they still have to support this via their taxes. Yep, that’s Obama’s notion of “fairness” alright.