(As prepared for delivery)
On our agenda this month are the annual budget presentations for the university, and that brings me to a very special announcement for the Ann Arbor campus.
The University of Michigan has a longstanding and extraordinary commitment to providing need based financial aid to in-state students seeking to better their lives by studying on our campus.
Today, our commitment to ensuring that qualified students from Michigan can afford a U-M education becomes a guarantee. All in-state undergraduate students from families with an annual income of up to $65,000 will receive free tuition on our Ann Arbor campus, subject to certain limits.
This new financial aid program is called the Go Blue Guarantee.
I have heard from far too many students and families throughout our state who don’t pursue a U-M education because they feel they can’t afford it. These are Michiganders from Marquette to Detroit, to Grand Rapids, Shiawassee and Ypsilanti. This innovative financial program is for all of them, and for every student in Michigan who dreams of a U-M education, applies and is admitted. We now guarantee those with the most need can afford a U-M education.
The Go Blue Guarantee cuts through the complexities of financial aid to help us reach talented students from all communities in our state. I have always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not. The Go Blue Guarantee helps us ensure more opportunity.
About half the families in the state of Michigan make $65,000 or less. Students from these families will receive free tuition plus whatever other financial aid they qualify for based on their individual circumstances. And rest assured that our commitment to provide need- based financial aid to students from families with incomes above the $65,000 level will remain as strong as ever.
We will be launching a statewide awareness campaign to spread the word about this new financial aid program, so the people of our great state will be able to see our commitment, written boldly, in maize and blue.
A goal of the Go Blue Guarantee is for every qualified student to feel that a University of Michigan education is within their financial reach.
Our commitment to financial aid speaks to the importance the Board of Regents places on supporting students. This priority is reflected in the hearts of our donors, and in the details of our budget. This year’s U-M budget proposal for Ann Arbor increases financial aid by 9.5 percent, bringing the figure for need-based undergraduate financial aid to $176.7 million.
For students receiving financial aid, this growth in the financial aid budget will help cover the $424 per year increase in the most common rate for Ann Arbor’s undergraduate, in-state tuition. This represents a tuition increase of 2.9 percent.
To put this commitment in perspective, over the last decade we have increased our undergraduate financial aid budget by an average of 11.3 percent per year, compared with 4 percent per year for in-state undergraduate tuition.
I must thank the members of the Board of Regents for their dogged commitment to access and affordability of a U-M education. They urged us to be bold, and the Go Blue Guarantee could not have happened without their encouragement and support.
Tremendous credit also goes to our generous donors whose philanthropic commitment to financial aid underlies the financing of the Go Blue Guarantee.
Finally, I thank all of the deans, executive officers and their teams – and especially our budget and financial aid staff – for the prudent financial management that enables us to enhance the U-M’s academic excellence and societal impact while at the same time increasing access to a Michigan education in all communities across our state.