The local news did a piece promoting some new buildings one of the second tier state universities is building to try and make the place more attractive to students. They cited some (shocking, alarming, scary) declines in enrollment at the top of their report (down 11% state wide, down 48% at Central Michigan, down 40% at Eastern and Western)
The 10 year changes in enrollment in this piece from January 23 are not as (shocking, alarming…) as those in the piece, but I do see a trend: If you are rich and connected, or have an athletic scholarship, you go to U of M Ann Arbor (up 19.4%) or Michigan State (up 5.6%) If you don’t have any of those advantages, you go to a second tier university, and they are all down, a lot.
My first thought is, instead of issuing bonds to finance more buildings, maybe the state should fund education at the level it did before the US went Shiny 40 years ago, so people could actually afford it, without ringing up a five figure debt.
…and perhaps it is now time to finally comprehend that residential colleges are going to become an ever more crap poor alternative to on-line instruction. Insanely inherently more expensive, almost always poorer lecturing than is available on line, and with a rapidly eroding sense of community etc left over from ancient times.
Mostly is good for non-scholars who desperately want to put off adulthood and escape mom and dad…
Or not. The scope of the drop in enrollment in the state university system seems to track the drop in Michigan’s population of high schoolers. Over roughly the same time period, Michigan’s high school graduation numbers fell from 105K to 95K, about a 9.5% drop. Nationwide college enrollment also peaked in 2010-2011. They have nationally declined sharply due to COVID, but demographers have long projected that our aging population and declining birth rate would lead to a gradual decline in college enrollment (in absolute numbers).
There might simply not be as much demand for seats in the lower tier of the state university system as in years past.
Western Michigan University tuition is $13,334 per year for in-state residents. This is 75% more expensive than the national average public four year tuition of $7,601. The cost is 36% cheaper than the average Michigan tuition of $20,959 for 4 year colleges.
By contrast in an adjacent state and at a more prestigious state school:
Purdue University Main Campus tuition is $9,718 per year for in-state residents. This is 28% more expensive than the national average public four year tuition of $7,601. The cost is 57% cheaper than the average Indiana tuition of $22,445 for 4 year colleges.
WMU has been expensive for decades and I have no idea why. I will state that Purdue is much more expensive for out of state (and there are a lot more that go there) than at WMU so perhaps that is some of the trade off. Half of all students at Purdue are from either out of state or out of the country. I am unable to find the stats for WMU but I don’t imagine it is anywhere close.
I don’t agree with that assessment at all. There is value in the traditional college setting. There is something to be had from teacher/student interaction, and student/student interaction. From being (somewhat) on your own for the first time.
We’re turning education into purely an ROI equation focusing solely on job skills and tossing away things of value that have no direct financial return. That is sad.
BUT, many many people in the USA and around the world
cannot afford the costs (student loan disasters anyone, anyone?)
have educational needs quite different from that provided by traditional 4 year college
would be greatly helped by NOT being stuck with a lousy lecturer (they abound!)
Leaving home and childhood behind and becoming a self-supporting socially engaged adult are available in many other forms. I thrived in a residential college, but gained even more by taking a year off after second year to travel the country doing social and political organizing while funding myself working as a short order cook and secretarial assistant.
Four year colleges are useful and important but I do not at all agree that we should place such reliance on them while neglecting multiple other needs.
A very good point, and one that is noted in the literature. But that does not explain the split: U of M, State, and Michigan Tech, having increases, while the second tier universities have large declines.
A handy site. Here are the entries for U of M and State.
Michigan State University tuition is $14,750 per year for in-state residents. This is 94% more expensive than the national average public four year tuition of $7,601. The cost is 30% cheaper than the average Michigan tuition of $20,959 for 4 year colleges. Tuition ranks 28th in Michigan amongst 4 year colleges for affordability and is the 31st most expensive 4 year college in the state. If attending from out-of-state, the tuition is $40,562 which represents a 175% premium.
University of Michigan tuition is $15,850 per year for in-state residents. This is 109% more expensive than the national average public four year tuition of $7,601. The cost is 24% cheaper than the average Michigan tuition of $20,959 for 4 year colleges. Tuition ranks 31st in Michigan amongst 4 year colleges for affordability and is the 28th most expensive 4 year college in the state. If attending from out-of-state, the tuition is $52,904 which represents a 234% premium.
The school charges an additional fees of $328 in addition to tuition bringing the total effective in-state tuition to $16,178.
So, Whatsa Matta U costs roughly $1,000 less than State and $2,000 less than U of M, per year. It occurs to me, after posting my reply to Albaby, that U of M and State are hoovering up a greater portion of students, while the second tier universities wither, because, with everything riding on a student loan, rather than paid out of pocket, the extra cost to go to one of the two top universities is seen as “worth it”. The implication of that being all the money that Eastern Michigan is spending on the new buildings the local news was touting, will not make any difference, because EMU will still not compete with the big two on reputation or headlines on the sports page.
When I started at Western, in the fall of 73, undergrad tuition was $17/credit hour, and a one year commuter parking sticker was $18, or vice versa. A “full load” was 15 hours/ semester. If you assume the student only takes classes for the fall and winter semesters, rather than year round, like I did. that comes out to 30hrs/year, or, at $18/hr, $540/year. Using the BLS inflation calculator, that $540 in 73 works out to $3,645.11/year now, less than half the $7,601 national average.
After looking over these numbers, I suspect that, next time Michigan has a “pro-growth” government, some of the state universities will be shuttered, the students packed into the remaining schools, and the money saved in reduced overhead will be used for another tax cut. After all, the (L&Ses) overwhelmingly are grads of the big two, so the second tier universities do not have a constituency in Lansing to protect them.
You posted that while I was churning out a longer post that considered that possibility. Between the small premium in cost between Western and the big two, and the reduction in elasticity of demand with respect to price, due to student loans, it could be that people of my economic strata, who usually paid out of pocket, and went to the cheaper schools, are now opting for the big two.
If you have fewer students (lower demand), it’s going to show up in enrollment in the second tier schools - not the top schools. The most selective schools won’t want for applicants, but the lower-ranked schools will find it harder to fill seats.
I remember when I was in my 20’s all the old people would be telling me that cars cost as much as their first home. It looks like that hasn’t changed. I do not think people realize what inflation does to everything
I don’t think the complaint is that it is expensive. I think the complaint is that it is expensive in relation other options. To use your analogy (and to keep this in Michigan), it would be like Kroger selling potatoes for $27 a bag when Meijer was selling them for $22.
Now we all know people that will drive a few miles just to save $0.10 on a gallon of gas. It would be reasonable to expect even more people to drive a few miles to save $5 on a bag of potatoes.
Ok Hawkins but my take is that it isn’t expensive. If a truck cost as much as a good education is it really expensive? The truck is going to depreciate and hopefully your education will inflate your earnings.
This thread gets more interesting all the time. Your link shows Western being significantly more expensive, but it does not list the main U of M campus in Ann Arbor, only the Dearborn and Flint campuses, which are commuter schools, without the huge residential and athletic infrastructure that Ann Arbor has. Cost at the State main campus in East Lansing is almost as much as Western.
U of M, State, and Oakland, are the only ones with salary over $60K. If it was only U of M and State, I would say the pay premium was entirely due to the reputation, or headlines on the sports page, but how did Oakland grads pull down the same pay as the big two?
Western grads only pulling in $52K. $10-$15K less then the top schools, is what you would expect from a second tier university, but, you would think it should be lower cost…
All else being equal, you are better off spending more to go to U of M or spending less and going to Purdue.
As suggested, the futility of trying to pay for college out of current income, forces students to take on debt, and the “EZ-credit” of student loans, reduces the demand elasticity with respect to price, so more opt for the big two, and abandon the second tier schools.
Try ranking for all business degrees. U of M Ann Arbor #1 in the state, economic score of 0.44, with grads pulling down $100K. Oakland #2, State #3, with pay in the $70s Western’s economic score is 2.57, with starting pay in the $50s.
There is a thing at the bottom of the page to show more for all majors. Western is “below the fold”.