How Significant is UM’s Free Tuition Guarantee?

“It’ll signal to students… that U of M is a possibility for them.”

The University of Michigan will guarantee free tuition for in-state families making less than $65,000 per year. The program — known as the Go Blue Guarantee — will start in January 2018 and provide each eligible student four years of free tuition. How significant is this announcement? What could it mean for low-income students? Could it help improve the university’s long struggle to boost minority enrollment?

Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson speaks to Kedra Ishop, University of Michigan’s vice provost for enrollment management and David Jesse, higher education reporter at the Detroit Free Press.

Ishop says the university has been helping lower-income students cover tuition for several years, but this takes it a step further. 

“What the guarantee does for us is make it very clear,” says Ishop. “This will capture new students, and it’ll signal to students who may have not believed themselves eligible for financial aid that U of M is a possibility for them.”

Paying for college can indeed be daunting, especially when many institutions increase tuition every year.

“The in-state tuition increase is 2.9 percent,” says Jesse regarding U of M’s concurrent — and less publicized — announcement about their most recent increase. “The big hike, the 4.5%, that’s for out of state… With everything, you’re pushing 40K, 45K. So you’re starting to get into the same prices that you would pay at some of the… elite, private schools. And that’s a deliberate strategy. They’re trying to take advantage of that to keep the in-state tuition down.”

Ishop also addresses financial aid options for students above the $65,000 income level and varying sources of funding that help U of M supplement tuition for students.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above.


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