College Students Face Possible Tuition Hikes

By Staff
August 18, 2009

Students in Michigan and California are still not certain what their final tuition payments will be for the upcoming school semester.

The Detroit News reports that more than 96,000 students will be heading to colleges and universities without any guarantee that they will receive their Michigan Promise Scholarship awards, worth up to $4,000 for each student.

"Our kids, who are responsible for a majority of their college bills, are counting on that money," said Lee Vandenbussche, whose sons attend Michigan State University. "They have letters from the state of Michigan 'promising' it to them."

Responding to a $1.8 billion state deficit, the state Senate voted to eliminate the scholarship program in June, but the House and the governor's version of the higher education budget include funding for Promise. The three sides must compromise to balance the budget before the October 1 fiscal year begins. Meanwhile, students and their families are understandably anxious, as are college officials, who are counting on the state to cover the scholarship.

"This puts our students in a very difficult situation," said Al Hermsen, director of the Office of student Financial Aid at Wayne State University, who was quoted in The Detroit News. The school plans to credit students for the scholarship for the time being, and if the program is eliminated, officials will consider whether to ask students to pay the difference.

Yet students may react angrily to the unexpected fees, as did students at California State University. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that CSU students have sued the school's Board of Trustees, claiming the university illegally billed them twice for tuition. The university accepted payment in June for the fall semester and then demanded more money this month for the same semester, telling students that failing to pay could cause them to be dropped from fall enrollment.

"CSU is acting illegally because they're double-billing us. I don't think it's fair," said Samantha Adame, a senior at San Francisco State University, who was quoted in the Chronicle. She is named in the lawsuit filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court.

CSU officials indicated that the institution is attempting to cut $584 million from its $4.6 billion budget by reducing enrollment, lowering pay and raising student fees. As a result, undergraduate fees were raised 10 percent on May 13, and then raised another 20 percent two weeks later.

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