NMU Board approves COVID-relief fund for students, sets tuition

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University is using investments, university and federal aid, and cost-saving efforts to address tuition rates, coronavirus safety concerns, and uncertain fiscal year 2021 state funding.

According to the university, the strategy could amount to a zero net increase for many students for the fall semester. It also keeps NMU’s tuition and fees second most affordable in the state for the 17th consecutive year.

On Tuesday, the NMU Board of Trustees increased tuition $215 per semester for resident undergrads or 3.71%. However, two grants could effectively lower that amount to $0 for the fall. The board approved a recommendation to reallocate some institutional financial aid so that each student receives a $100 COVID-19 Northern-funded grant applied automatically to a student’s billing statement. Additionally, NMU has created a $115 CARES Act-II grant program for eligible students, using the remaining federal stimulus monies it received through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

This spring, NMU offered CARES Act grants of up to $700 to eligible students to help offset financial disruptions students suffered due to the pandemic. Like the first set of CARES grants, the CARES Act-II grants must be distributed directly to students and not be applied to a billing statement. Unlike the first set of grants, NMU will automatically process the grants for all returning students who are eligible, with no application necessary.

“It was important to keep the increase minimal because we understand the financial burden the pandemic has put on our students and their families,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “However, we have also been strategizing on how to address safety concerns and uncertain fiscal year 2021 state funding.

NMU has invested more than $2 million in COVID-19-related safety measures, which is enabling students to return to face-to-face instruction. These include COVID testing for students and employees; new testing equipment for the NMU Health Center; health care staff for quarantine/isolation areas; and protective equipment and products.

“The Finance Committee of the Board looked at numerous options regarding tuition,” said Finance Committee Chairman Steve Young. “We felt it was important that we not only maintain the financial stability of the University in these uncertain times but that we also recognize the difficult situation that many of our students and their families face. I think we have done that.”

The average tuition and fees cost for full-time resident undergraduates will be $6,011 per semester. The non-resident undergraduate rate rose by the same percentage as for resident students. Graduate program tuition increased by $21 per credit.

Global Campus tuition rose $17 per credit. To financially help Global Campus students (who are not eligible to receive CARES Act funding), NMU is waiving the $50 per credit distance learning fee, which it also did for the two summer sessions. This will result in a net decrease per credit hour for the fall semester of $33 per credit.

“We wanted to help our online students, who have also faced COVID-19 disruptions,” said Erickson. “Obviously the costs the fee supports haven’t gone away, but we decided to address them in an alternative manner for now.”

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