Student Tuition Costs Increasing

  PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Infographic on Student Loans 



  2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Macy Williams Age: 21 School/occupation: University of Michigan Location: Redding Township, MI   Quote: "Michigan has everything I could dream for in a school; academics and school spirit. Go Blue!"   About:
  • Works as a research assistant 12 hours a week for a biology lab, while also holding a 40-hour a week job at a local clothing store
  • On the club lacrosse team, was a 3-time All-State player in high school
  • Works on her parents' farm in the summer, was first in her family to attend a collegiate university
  • Wants to be a doctor, specializing in finding a cure for Alzheimer's, a disease her grandmother suffered from
  • To be able to help her parents retire due to her admiration of their hard-working nature
  • Starting a scholarship program for women interested in the field of medicine


POV Statement:
  • User Macy, a college senior, hoping to graduate early with a major in biology as she tries to pay tuition out of pocket.
  • Need ..needs more free time to allow her to succeed both academically and in sports, as she hopes to remove stress from her life.
  • Insight ..because she is trying to work 2 jobs, one paid and one for research, while taking hard classes and playing a sport.


3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Implement a law limiting the amount of allowed tuition increase per year, to the prior year's inflation rate, or the current maximum of 3.8%, whichever is lowest. (Currently, tuition is out-growing the cost of living)

SOLUTION 2: Implement the same allowed increase (equal to inflation rate) to all extra "fees" from student costs (Room & Board, Meal Plan, etc.). 

SOLUTION 3: Launch incentives for students holding jobs at the same time as attending a public collegiate university (housing stipends, meal stipends, free rental textbooks, reduced tuition)



Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Student Tuition Allowable Increase 

This bill states in simple terms that univerisities are not allowed to increase the average tuition and fee rate by more than 3.8% or $490, whichever is greater.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will directly impact the lives of every student in the state of Michigan studying higher education. Additionally, as it will improve financial aid capabilities, it may allow students that currently aren't able to afford tuition, to be able to hopefully in the short-term, but certainly in the long-run.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

I learned about the underlying issues of my proposal by applying to and deciding on what college I would attend. Michigan's out-of-state tuition was a con in which I had to consider when comparing to other public universities, so I saw the prominence of this issue, and why it drastically needs to be changed.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

My service activity of working in a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Detroit (Cass Social Services) has taught me there is a need to limit tuition costs as many people already don't have the resources to be able to pay to attend a state university, and financial aid needs to continue to improve to allow the most opportunities for those in need, as there are many very smart people that don't have the opportunity to suceed. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Infographic on Student Loans 


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Gary Carpenter, CPA, CCA, College Planning Services

On average, public universities are increasing tuition at a rate of about 3% per year, when inflation is only rising between 1-2% each year. Schools are raising tuition more than inflation, which means they are trying to bring in revenue to cover costs. The largest cost, faculty, is wherein the problem lies, as the majority of the school's faculty is 30/40% administration. Upper management and administration is a cost that could be cut down that is a large factor of this. Secondly, while there is a cap for tuition increases, there is no cap for "fee" increases and is a loophole universities are using to get around the tuition cap. Finally, external costs like paying for books creates poor conditions for students, spending on average over $1,000 per year. The "extra" costs are only going to continue to rise until supply outweighs demand, and student population at universities fall.

CONSULTATION 2: Max Degener, Student, University of Michigan

The hardest part of the cost of school for me is all the extra things. Whether it be books, school supplies, food if the dining halls are closed, uber's in the winter, or any other daily cost is really what accumulates. That is partially because of the money parents and students have to pay up front. When you're paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for an education, there shouldn't then be tons of additional costs. While universities do a great job educating people, and providing them with degrees that help them later in life, they are also plaguing students with debt, and impacting them financially in the short-run as well.

CONSULTATION 3: Cathy Zales, Private College Advisor

While not many of her students typically apply for large sums of financial aid, higher education costs have been the cause of debate and are one of the prime topics for the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. Everyone knows that the higher education system has its flaws, and everyone is trying to figure out the solution. In recent years, public schools have been increasing tuition at alarming rates, so that they can utilize that extra money, while also providing increased financial aid. The problem with that is many of the families struggling with financial aid are then turned off to apply to those colleges, as the "sticker price" is so high, and they doubt they will be able to afford the schools. The biggest area in which costs go to is the staff/faculty, something many wouldn't expect. While efficiencies in teaching have not changed very much according to statistics, their salaries have, and continue to increase.


Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

When I approached Prof. Kupperman regarding my proposal, he had a multitude of both suggestions, but also critical questions to ask me regarding my proposal. He asked about where I thought this funding would come from, why am I focusing on out-of-state tuition rather than in-state tuition, and he provided me advice on the feasibility of implementing my proposal. I took away from that conversation a few things that drastically changed the way I went about my proposal. Rather than focusing on out-of-state tuition, which I initially chose because it is very expensive, I changed to in-state, as it is more applicable to the state legislation. Furthermore, because I found the state funding increase to not be feasible, I decided to focus instead on capping tuition increases, which would require no additional funding, but rather just force universities to find a way to cut costs. Mr. Kupperman was extremely helpful, and he redirected my proposal to be more in line with something that is more feasible in implementing.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

When I initially started researching this proposal, I focused my attention mainly on out-of-state figures. Since I am an out-of-state student, and the cost of tuition out-of-state is extremely high, I thought it would be the best place to focus. After talking with Prof. Kupperman, as well as a number of other people, I shifted to in-state tuition, as I felt it would have more substance with the state legislation. I researched other countries schooling systems, such as the UK, where tuition is capped at 9,000 pounds per year. I also researched funding on a state by state basis to see how Michigan aligned. Michigan was near the bottom, and I started thinking about increasing state funding for higher education. This ended up being a dead end as it was extremely costly and require a large sum of the budget being stripped from another sector. The only obvious sector was Medicaid, as it is up to 30% of the budget, while K-12 education has steadily dropped recently. I couldn't justify stripping away 2% of the Medicaid budget for higher education, as I think it is a highly important as well, so I looked to more non-monetary solutions. After researching how much Michigan state tuition increases on a yearly basis, I found it only made sense to go that route. I also started researching where a lot of the costs come from that people dount account for; books, food, transportation. I think it was very helpful for me to start from a big picture, and narrow it down over time to figure out where my proposal would have the most success.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?'

I did the project alone, I did not have a partner.


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... In-State Tuition costs at all 14 of the State Universities within Michigan are allowed to increase 3.8% each year, which is greater than the standard inflation rate between 1-2% (1.91% 2019), causing an increased cost of living.

WHEREAS....  Michigan provides only $5.3 per $1000 disposable income in funding for higher education, a relatively small number in relation to other comparable states, has decreased support per capita 22% over the past 10 years, consistently ranking in the bottom three for Midwest states

WHEREAS.... The cost of tuition for in-state and out-of-state students is greater than the US average (7th highest overall) and is over 10,000 dollars a year more than the nationwide average for out-of-state students (2nd highest out-of-state tuition behind Vermont).

WHEREAS.... Students are struggling to afford outside expenses like food, books, transportation as they are already using that money to pay tuition.

WHEREAS.... Some students have to work a job on top of attending 15+ hours of classes every week, with ample additional work outside of the classroom.


Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. Tuition increases per year will be changed so they cannot exceed the prior year's inflation rate, or if inflation is greater than the current 3.8% maximum, then it will be capped at that. This will allow for tuition costs to be regulated and slow down over the course of some years. 

2. This will allow tuition costs to be more stagnant and not outpace inflation. It will eliminate many unnecessary costs. Fees such as Room & Board, Meals, etc. will also be limited to increasing on a yearly basis to the rate of inflation, this is currently not as tightly regulated and is more ambiguous.

3. Students will have incentivized opportunities to work in school positions, benefitting both the student and the University, as universities will implement programs that help student-employees manage both working and attending class. Whether it be subsidized tuition or Room & Board, or free tutoring, there are a number of ways in which the school can aid students who are working for the University.

4. Employing an "open textbook network", as a variety of other schools work in coalition to have an open textbook network for their students. Schools such as Brown, Ohio State, Clemson, University of Minnesota, and more all have these. This would reduce hundreds, maybe even thousands in costs on a yearly basis for students. It provides free online textbook access to students in a multitude of subjects, cutting down the necessity to buy books.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. There is not enough money that can be taken from other areas of the schools budget, if tuition increases slow down, schools will not be able to last long-term.

2. There was already a 2% increase in state funding last year, why does there need to be anything else?

3. The University of Michigan is one of the top public universities in the nation, why change what seems to be working well relative to the rest of the country?

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Since my proposal is largely formulated around limiting the allowed increase of tuition on a yearly basis, there will be no direct cost. That cost instead will be put into the 14 state universities hands, as they may need to cut costs somewhere without being able to just raise tuition and fees. Therefore, there may be non-monetary costs, but I cannot identify what those areas I do not know where the school would cut costs in this scenario. It wouldn't be drastic or easily recognizable on our side, but could result in some faculty positions being lost. Faculty is where I would expect costs to be cut, as there is an influx of "administration" positions, and salaries account for a large majority of costs since financial aid is largely covered through state funding. The costs of creating an incentivized program for student-employees, and creating an open textbook network, should be pretty limited and will come from the state universities either joining a current open textbook network or utilizing the current resources they have to create one. The incentivized student-employee program should be more non-monetary costs as the school will look to use resources such as student services in tutoring, housing, or dining to help the student employees.



These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.


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Total votes: 19