WMU freezes tuition for classes on main campus

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees has voted not to change tuition rates for on-campus classes in Kalamazoo next school year.

Room and board rates will also stay the same on-campus for the 2020-2021 school year.

The trustees say the decision is to help families with the financial burden of the pandemic.

“This will provide a level of stability to help students and their families plan for the year ahead and relieve financial pressures from the effects of COVID-19,” the written recommendation presented to the board read.

The decision to not change rates does not apply to online only courses or regional campus sites.

The undergraduate Michigan resident tuition rate will remain at $6,047 a semester for 12 to 15 credit hours.

The university estimates a loss of $45 million in revenue so far from the pandemic with additional losses expected at $45 to $85 million next fiscal year.

Despite those challenges, university president Edward Montgomery says keeping costs the same for students was the right decision to make.

“The unemployment rate is going up. It has put a very great strain on working families and the students and their ability to get jobs and meet their obligations,” Montgomery told News 8 in a phone interview.

Many questions remain for how universities will have to operate next year, and the challenges future social distancing requirements could pose.

“If we are practicing social distancing, you probably can’t have a dorm room with four people in it and so that kind of arrangement would be difficult. You can’t have dorms where you would have shared bathrooms,” Montgomery said.

Universities are trying to make plans for next year and have had to look at a variety of scenarios, which remain possibilities.

“We might be one of the last institutions where the state of emergency is released. When that would happen? How it would happen with our restrictions, about how close people can be together? We don’t know and so it’s hard for us to plan,” Montgomery said.

Senior executives are taking a 10% pay cut with deans and vice presidents taking a 5% reduction.

No decision on furloughs or job cuts has been made, but Montgomery acknowledges tough times ahead.

“We’re still working through what’s the best plan for the next steps. We have not settled on anything there, but we do know this is large, and it’s likely to touch every aspect of the campus,” Montgomery said.

News 8 also reached out to Grand Valley State University. A GVSU spokesperson says its trustees always decide on tuition rates at the July meeting.