(Photo: Associated Press)
(Photo: Associated Press)

BY LAURA CLARK, Staff Writer

Gov. Rick Snyder announced his 2012-13 budget proposal last Thursday, which includes a 3% increase in funding and state aid for public universities. This could have a dramatic effect on UM-Dearborn and other public institutions.

Part of Snyder’s proposal is that the funding increase will relate to four criteria, which include: an increase in the number of completions of undergraduate degrees, the number of students receiving Pell Grants who graduate, schools keeping tuition increases below a set threshold of 7.1%, and the number of completions of degrees for critically needed areas of work (health care, science, technology, engineering, and math).

“It’s not about getting them a college degree, but connecting them to the jobs that are available,” said Snyder.

According to Press and Guide, a local paper serving Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, “University of Michigan-Dearborn would see a 2.7 percent funding increase to $21.6 million. Another $9 million in funds will be distributed to universities if they set rates for next fall that do not exceed the 4 percent increase.”

Snyder held a Facebook town hall meeting on Thursday night with more than 430 participants to discuss his budget proposal. He commented that education was one of his top priorities. Snyder said that schools should be expecting performance-based incentives this year, and he is allotting $70 million in his budget to be used as incentives for schools that increase their enrollment.

Snyder’s plan and incentive program comes amidst a trend of cutting public university funding due to tuition increases. Earlier this year, Snyder cut state aid to universities by 22%, but promised to lower that cut to 15% if tuition increases were kept below the 7.1% threshold.

Community college funding would also increase 3%, according to Snyder’s budget proposal. The schools receiving the most funding would again be those offering the most degrees and certificate programs in critically needed areas.

Snyder’s proposal also comes just two weeks after President Barack Obama spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and warned universities of the repercussions they would face if they did not stop increasing their tuition.

“From now on I’m telling Congress, we should steer federal campus-based aid to those colleges that keep tuition affordable, provide good value [and] serve their students well. We are putting colleges on notice… if you can’t stop tuition from going up then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down,” President Obama said.

At least 17 states are creating some sort of plan akin to Snyder’s for higher education.