U. of Michigan Implementing Free Tuition Program for Some In-state Students

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus has implemented a free tuition program, called “Go Blue Guarantee,” for in-state students and applicants with families earning up to $65,000 a year.

Dr. Mark Schlissel is president of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents approved the Go Blue Guarantee as part of the 2017-18 budget with a 7-1 vote and was publicly announced by Dr. Mark Schlissel, the university’s president, on June 15. The program will go into effect on January 3, 2018, when the winter semester commences.

In 2015, the median family income for the state of Michigan was $63,893, according to the U.S. Census. Go Blue is not currently being offered at the university’s Dearborn or Flint campuses due to the difference in family income between the various cities.

“For the past decade, UM has offered robust need-based financial aid for in-state students from families with income up to about $125,000 and more. But the message of how affordable it is to attend UM was not reaching many students and their parents,” said Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the university, via email. “The Go Blue Guarantee is a clear, powerful message to these families that if you are admitted to UM and your family income is less than $65,000, tuition is free. And there may be more financial aid available to cover other costs,” he added.

UM’s tuition rate will escalate by almost three percent, costing $14,826 annually for in-state undergraduates. The tuition for out-of-state undergraduates will increase by four and a half percent, making the tuition $47,476 a year. Tuition for some of the graduate programs at the University of Michigan will increase by over four percent.

Go Blue Guarantee pays for undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees up to four years, and four and a half years for students in the College of Engineering. The guarantee could also cover other expenses such as housing costs, meals, books and other necessities.

Current students and students applying to attend the university are urged to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order for the university’s financial aid office to fully evaluate each student’s family income fairly.

Students who are already enrolled at Michigan do not need to apply for the benefit. They can receive the aid if they are: enrolled in the fall and winter semesters, are full-time students working on their first bachelor’s degree, meet financial aid and Go Blue Guarantee eligibility requirements, submit their FAFSA by the deadline each year, and is an in-state student with a family income of $65,000 or less.

Ronald Weiser, a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, told Diverse he has received lots of positive reactions since the guarantee was announced, mainly through social media and in everyday conversations. He voted in favor of the program.

“This is something that’s going to help people throughout the state, including in the Upper Peninsula where we have lower incomes,” Weiser said in a phone interview. “So it will be people of a variety of different kinds of backgrounds, it’s not just for urban areas, it’s for rural areas. There’s a perception that the university is very expensive and therefore kids now can look at this and say, ‘Hey, if I have to do well enough in high school and my application exams to get in, I have an opportunity to go there and not have any kind of financial burden.’”

Current and transfer students are also eligible for the benefit, as long as they are seeking their first bachelor’s degree.

“There is no upper limit on the number of students who can qualify for the guarantee,” said Fitzgerald. “We will start by reviewing financial aid for currently enrolled students.”

There is also an opportunity for students with family incomes above $65,000 to benefit from this financial aid. Over 60 percent of Michigan students with families making over $65,000 a year qualify for aid under the program, according to the Go Blue Guarantee website.

UM additionally provides financial aid to out-of-state students and fulfills financial need for out-of-state students from families with incomes up to $90,000.

Monica Levitan can be reached at mlevitan@diverseeducation.com

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