Student senate column: Why GVSU deserves more state funding
Editor's note: Stephen Szymanski is a student senator on the public relations committee. The opinions expressed in this piece are Szymanski's own.
Let’s paint a picture: Imagine that your university does get funding from the state, which universities do; however, it is not based on the merits of your university—it is based on something known as base-line funding, and your university gets money through this process. Let me explain why state funding is very important to Grand Valley State University.
For starters, how is state funding given to each university? It is given by the history of funding and the performance of the students. However, GVSU is the second-lowest publicly funded university in the entire state, with Oakland University being the lowest one.
The performance of students at GVSU doesn’t appear to be an issue, though. According to 2018 Barron’s College Profiles, the median composite ACT score in fall 2016 was a 24, which is two places behind Michigan State University's median score of 26. Not only that, but in fall 2016, 94 percent of students at GVSU had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. GVSU is also considered one of “America’s Top Colleges,” according to Forbes.
Even with these good performances, the university still is lacking in state funding. According to the 2015-16 Accountability Report by GVSU, the state funding average per student is $5,182. To put this in perspective, Lake Superior State University, which has 23,000 fewer students according to the 2015 fall head count, gets $6,064. We have the lowest state investment per degree at $10,824, whereas the state average is $18,414.
Why does GVSU need more funding? We have a large population of 25,000-plus people, which includes the student body, staff and faculty. There is a lack of staffing as well as clubs and organizational funding. The lack of state funding really diminishes the student’s education and accessibility to better the education.
The option here is to change the allocation system to make sure that state funding is based on performance for all universities so there is an equal distribution of funding and to increase funding for higher education as a whole. The way that students can help push for increased state funding for higher education is to talk to other legislators who have a voice on the budget of higher education in Michigan.
Two student senators are currently working on a plan with two goals in mind: 1. to promote the various reasons for the positive effects of higher-education funding advocacy to those in respective power in Michigan legislation and 2. to lower tuition and other costs for students around Michigan in order to better serve the future of Michigan economically and educationally. A huge goal of student senate has always been getting more state funding, and as time goes on, we are slowly yet surely getting there.
We as students have a voice to help make increased funding and to make a difference in our education. College is where we lay the groundwork for our future. Let’s start by making our future better with better funds for a better education.