Students attending the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences will see their tuition increase $40 per credit hour beginning with the spring 2013 semester.
Western Michigan University’s board of trustees approved the increase during its regular meeting Thursday. The per-credit-hour differential tuition rate will be assessed on all undergraduate students affiliated with the engineering college.
As part of this plan the board also approved the elimination of course fees in the college and plans to dedicate the increased revenue to enhance undergraduate curricula and increase financial aid in the college.
“One of the strengths of our undergraduate experience is the ability to learn with a hands-on approach,” said Tim Greene, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “One of our strengths is that our students are known for coming right out of college ready to enter the work force. “ The added net revenue from this increase — about $2 million — will allow CEAS to improve education resources, both in equipment and personnel.
“We believe the differential tuition will help us continue to develop and prepare our students,” Greene said.
Greene said the decision was not made without consideration of students’ concerns about finances.
“We asked for input, comments from student leaders and others, as we considered this,” Greene said. “(The increase) is putting money into their own program.”
CEAS has seen enrollment increase in each of the past four years. Consideration of a differential tuition increase included analyzing existing tuition practices at Michigan’s four other research universities and one local competitor. All five, Greene said, already charge differential tuition for engineering, and within this structure, the tuition at CEAS remains the lowest.
With the differential tuition increase, WMU is projected to have the second-lowest four-year tuition among this group.
According to information supplied by the school, 75 cents of each differential dollar collected will remain within CEAS to enhance its undergraduate curricula, infrastructure and personnel. The remaining 75 cents of each dollar will be made available to CEAS students in the form of student financial aid.
The decision affects freshman through senior levels, and the differential rate affects resident and non-resident per-credit-hour rates as set by the board of trustees. For an undergraduate taking 15 credit hours, tuition will increase $600 per semester, while eliminating approximately $145 in course fees for all CEAS students.
In other business, the board approved a plan to renovate two floors of the WMU building on the W.E. Upjohn Campus for Research, Grants, and Projects. The recommendation is part of the university’s Capital Outlay Priority list; renovation of laboratory floors 4 and 6, which were formerly used for research by Pfizer, was deemed a top priority.
The board also heard a summary report on the new Sangren Hall from Peter Strazdas, associate vice president. The $59 million project was completed and the new building opened this school year.
The report stressed the importance of sustainability throughout the project’s development and the building’s completion.
“I believe we have one of the most sustainable buildings in the state of Michigan,” Stazdas said. Compared to the former Sangren building, the new structure boasts a 30-35-percent reduction in total energy consumption, and 50-percent reduction o water consumption, among other improvements.
“It is a marvelous addition to our university, but it is just a building,” Strazdas said. “Our greatest value is seeing the education that goes on inside the building, and how the students benefit from it.”
The board also approved entering into a lease rental prepayment agreement between the Western Michigan University School of Medicine and WMU. The agreement shows the school of medicine is committed to enter into a lease agreement at a future date after WMU issues bonds for the project.