It’s time for Michigan to enact a ‘Student Bill of Rights’
As one who has sat in an audience listening to Gov. Granholm as she spoke about how important it is to raise the level of college graduates in Michigan, I have been impressed with her vision for a new 21st century Michigan.
Then to read that for the upcoming 2007-08 academic school year all of Michigan's 15 public universities will raise tuition significantly above the rate of inflation sounds an alarm and raises cause for concern if Gov. Granholm's noble higher education goal is to become reality.
As a recently elected member of the Dryden School Board who believes in the promise of post secondary higher education that Gov. Granholm promotes frequently and regularly, I am disheartened to learn that many recent Dryden Community Schools graduates simply cannot attend college because of the rising cost of public higher education. This need not be the case, yet for many it is a real issue that limits may qualified potential college students. Let's explore one reason that leads us to this dilemma:
Each year, Michigan's 15 public universities are appropriated generous state funding with autonomy, yet still find excuses and reasons to raise college tuition year after year leaving many potential college students behind, while at the same time paying lucrative salaries to administrators who sit in comfortable surroundings and proclaim to have the best interests of the students at heart. Out of control governing boards that are more concerned in erecting new buildings with capital spending projects is one reason of many why students have to pay more yearly.
Not only are recent high school graduates victims to rising tuition, many current college students who have just completed a significant portion of the required courses will be forced to postpone graduation because they do not have access to funds to pay for college. Most importantly, the non-traditional adult student who has gone back to college to retrain for a future career is now at risk of not attending college because rising tuition costs rule out this important tenet of our American dream.
It is time that Michigan college students demand that their elected representatives propose a "Student Bill of Rights" which makes it a law that upon entering a 4-5 year college program, the university cannot raise the set level of tuition until the student matriculates. This model has been effective at Central Michigan University with the "CMU Promise" and needs to be offered by all of Michigan's public universities if Gov. Granholm's dream of elevating the percentage of college graduates is to become a reality.
The governor also needs to reevaluate the Michigan Merit Scholarship program and award the funds only when the student successfully completes their chosen 2 or 4 year program of study. An approach such as this will motivate the students to complete the required coursework and not reward students who take advantage of this high cost state funded college scholarship program.
The state of Michigan needs to reign in the autonomy of Michigan's 15 public universities and hold the institutions accountable to make sure students graduate on time and within budget. Let the day when a Michigan college student begins a program and is met with significant tuition increases be a day of the past. Demand that our legislators propose promising legislation that will boost Michigan's college graduate rate by signing into law a Student Bill of Rights.
Kenneth J. Hreha, B.A., Oakland University Alumnus, 2002 Dryden
July 25, 2007