Frequently Asked Questions

Additional questions may be directed to budget@msu.edu

Why does tuition go up every year?
It is always difficult to ask students and their families to pay more, but MSU owes it to them and to the state of Michigan to sustain the university as a world-class institution now and for the long-term. Just like any other business, MSU also faces increased costs for everything from energy to health care to food. Diminishing state assistance is also a major factor.

Why can’t the state help keep some of the costs of higher education in check?
Michigan is in its current economic condition in large part because of the massive loss of manufacturing employment this decade. That has placed significant budgeting pressures both on the state and MSU. Nevertheless, it is imperative that the state continue to fund higher education at the highest level possible. MSU and its partner University Research Corridor universities—the University of Michigan and Wayne State University—are critical “momentum magnets” for economic growth in the state. That momentum needs to continue.

Why doesn’t MSU freeze tuition?
Freezing tuition rates would reduce funds available to MSU even as costs increase, and this would have a detrimental effect on quality. A loss in quality would mean a loss in value to students, the state, and other stakeholders. Ultimately, a loss in quality would weaken Michigan’s ability to compete in today’s knowledge economy.

Is financial aid an option for students?
Yes. In fact, a majority of MSU students receive some form of financial aid. MSU is increasing institutional financial aid over the next two years by an unprecedented 30 percent to more than $100 million. In addition, MSU has special programs for families in need and for disabled veterans.

Can’t MSU use endowments to help defray costs?
While the university has an endowment totaling approximately $1 billion, use of those funds, for the most part, is restricted by the donors for a specific cause, program, or project. The funds are invested and only the investment income earned—not the principal—may be spent.

Wouldn’t students save money attending a smaller school?
By attending MSU, students receive all the benefits offered by one of the top research universities in the world. MSU’s costs for in-state students rank third among Michigan’s public universities. For nonresidents, the cost of attendance is seventh lowest in the Big Ten. While it would be more fiscally efficient to increase class sizes, as part of its commitment to quality, MSU’s student-faculty ratio now stands at 16 to 1, down from 19 to 1 six years ago.

Is MSU doing anything to cut its costs?
Yes. MSU has improved the efficiency of its operations, reducing its annual expenditures more than $70 million over the last six years, and the university has a 13 percent reduction program that could be expanded to address additional decline in state support. In addition, MSU saves more than $19 million annually in energy costs due to introduction over time of central controls, more efficient boilers, and innovative operation. Now MSU has a new aggressive energy-saving project in place, with a goal of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015.

Can students get on-campus jobs to help defray costs?
Yes. Students may earn as much as $3,000 a year by working at MSU, reducing their reliance on loans. Most students find it possible to work 10 to 15 hours per week and still maintain their academic performance and social life. Part-time jobs at MSU pay at least $6.95 per hour. Working also helps students organize their time, teaches discipline, and provides students with references to help with future career goals.

Additional questions may be directed to budget@msu.edu

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