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GRBJ: WMU increases aid offerings as tuition, housing costs rise

Western Michigan University bumped its available need-based aid by $1 million, or 4.27%. Students will see a hike of 3.85% for tuition and 2% for campus housing.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — GRBJ—Western Michigan University (WMU) has announced an increase in tuition and fees for the 2022-23 academic year while simultaneously offering an aid increase equaling $1 million in need-based scholarships.

The 2022-23 tuition and financial aid plan approved by the WMU board of trustees on June 23 will see tuition and required fees for undergraduate and graduate students increased by 3.85% while need-based aid will rise by 4.27%, or $1 million.

The same day, WMU approved new housing rates for 2022-23 that will raise costs by 2% for students housed on campus.

Accounting for about 73% of the university’s $407 million general operating budget, tuition is the major revenue source funding WMU activities, personnel and services including teaching and learning, health center services, library services and public safety.

While increasing tuition and living costs, WMU simultaneously approved a 4.27% increase in need-based scholarships, the greatest scholarship expansion in the university’s history. The expanded aid is due in part to last year’s Empowering Futures Gift, a $550 million donation gifted to WMU by alumni in spring 2021.

Combined with institutional aid, WMU’s funds for financial support outweigh the upcoming rise in tuition and board, according to WMU officials. For the coming academic year, the university offers incoming freshmen scholarships, transfer, institutional and athletic scholarships, as well as departmental and endowed scholarships from donors.

While the state’s appropriation for higher education remains at the proposal stage, the increase approved by trustees June 23 is below tuition cap levels in the funding plans proposed by the governor, House and Senate.

Going into the 2022-23 academic year, Western is expected to place in the middle of the state’s 15 public universities in terms of affordability. A newly admitted, full-time Michigan resident first-year student will pay $13,950 in tuition and required fees for the upcoming academic year, an increase of $516 over the previous year.

“First and foremost, our concern is our students,” said Lynn Chen-Zhang, chair of the WMU board of trustees. “In determining tuition and other fees, we balance two imperatives: maintaining a high-quality learning environment and maintaining accessibility.

“We strive to keep attendance as affordable as possible while providing an outstanding educational experience for students. Our students deserve top-tier faculty members to teach them, modern technology to support their learning and comprehensive services to meet their holistic educational needs.”

In 2022-23, the annual cost for room and board in a traditional, double-room residence hall with a 14-meal plan option will be $5,272.50 per semester for a total of $10,545 yearly. The university’s Bronco Gold Plus meal plan, which provides students with unlimited meals at any dining hall, stands at $5,551 per semester for a yearly rate of $11,102, while its plan with room only and no meals stands at $2,834.00 per semester, or $5,668 yearly.

In addition to residence hall rate increases, rent for WMU campus apartments also will rise. Stadium Drive Apartments and Western View Apartments residents will see a rent increase of 3.75%. A per-person rate for a two-bedroom apartment at Western View will increase $23 per month, while a per-person rate for a two-bedroom apartment at Stadium Drive will increase $16 per month.

Arcadia Flats, the newest campus housing complex, will see no rate increases for the 2022-23 academic year. Pricing for this complex has remained consistent since it opened in January 2021.

This report first appeared in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

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