Student senators, university leaders discuss financial aid, university budget
Representatives from several different departments at Grand Valley State University attended student senate's general assembly meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, to discuss university finances, among other issues.
With speakers from the University Relations Division, the Division of Inclusion and Equity, University Budgets and human resources, student senators questioned the university leaders’ roles and asked what kind of academic, cultural and social services are being offered to students.
Matt McLogan, the vice president for university relations, spoke to the student senators about his role, saying how his responsibility for state and federal government relations, media relations and advertising is to act as a benefit for community outreach.
“Grand Valley is one of 1,500 university campuses in the state, and a portion of our budget is appropriated by the legislature,” McLogan said. “When I was your age and in college in the last century, the state paid about 75 percent of the costs operating most major universities. Tuition was 25 percent.
“When I came to work here in the late 1980s, that had changed from about two-thirds, one-third. The state was paying two-thirds. Students were paying one-third.”
Discussing how the state now pays 18 percent of the costs for running the university, with students paying 82 percent, McLogan said the legislature has very deliberately shifted the costs of running a university onto the taxpayers in the last 30 years.
McLogan also said, regarding the complaints about high tuition, coupled with the low state appropriation and the high financial aid, there are a multitude of scholarships and grants that can combat the costs of higher education.
“State budget is about now a $9 billion affair,” he said. “When I began this job 30 years ago, the state was putting about a billion-and-a-half into higher (education) and one billion into corrections. Today, corrections is at two billion, and university operations are at $1.2 billion.”
Other speakers included Scott Richardson, associate vice president for human resources, and Jeff Musser, assistant vice president for university budgets, who focused their talk on the university finances and budgets.
Relando Thompkins-Jones, the social justice educator of the Division of Inclusion and Equity, also spoke about micro-aggressions and representing everyone and all identities on campus at the general assembly.
Ella Fritzemeier, the student senate president, said the purpose of having university leaders speak at the general assembly was to give the student senators the chance to question their end goal for helping students be academically and financially comfortable.
Brianna Pannell, who is part of the student senate diversity affairs committee, questioned McLogan about financial aid.
“(Students) have over $20,000 in student loans, and they don’t (know) what they are going to study yet,” she said. “Do you think that it is a strong possibility that Michigan could have a freeze on tuition increments, or is (that) just a no?”
In response to Pannell’s question, McLogan said the university works very hard to make lower tuition a priority. There has also been an increase, McLogan said, of about 40 percent in the institutional financial aid—including grants—available for GVSU students in the last four to five years.
“The challenge of comparing us to other institutions that have more state money is that they have more money to do that with than we do,” he said. “We do the best we can with what we have.”
For more information about GVSU’s student senate, visit www.gvsu.edu/studentsenate/.