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MSU board
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Are Michigan colleges and universities so focused outward that they have become "placeless"? Are families being needlessly fractured by a growing emphasis on global engagement, and a move away from local involvement and commitment?

Jeffrey Polet, a professor of political science at Hope College in Holland thinks so. In a column for Bridge Magazine Polet argues that Michigan’s “hallowed halls may lead to the world, but they also contribute to the fracturing of communities.”

Polet talks to us about what he’s seen that caused him to write his piece, and where his criticism lies.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan Union
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What does the future hold for public universities?

A recent report from Moody's suggests the future is very uncertain for public universities: enrollment is flat, revenue is stagnant, and expenses grew nearly twice as fast as inflation.

Are public colleges on a "path to economic oblivion," as the Chronicle of Higher Education puts it? And how are Michigan's public colleges and universities faring?

Dan Hurley grew up and was educated in Michigan. Today he is with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where he's the Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis. He joined us today from Washington.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan and the shutdown

"As the federal government shutdown heads into day three, half a dozen national nature preserves in Michigan are now closed. Michigan is in the process of identifying thousands of state employees whose jobs are paid for with federal funds. State budget officials say they will have to be laid off if the federal shutdown lasts for more than two weeks. Food and cash assistance programs could also run out of money," Rick Pluta reports.

College grads that stay in Michigan could get a tax break

"College graduates who choose to stay in Michigan would get a tax break under a bill in the state Senate. The plan would affect students who earn a four-year degree from a Michigan college or university. They could get up to half of what they pay in student loans back when they file their yearly income taxes," Jake Neher reports.

Federal money at risk if Common Core is not funded in Michigan

"State education officials say more than a billion dollars of federal school funding is at risk as the state Senate debates a set of nationwide school standards. The state budget that took effect this week bars the Michigan Department of Education from spending any money to implement the Common Core standards," Jake Neher reports.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Get out the laundry carts: students are returning to college dorms.

More than 7,000 freshmen at Michigan State University begin moving in Sunday while other students check in Monday. Classes start Wednesday in East Lansing.

In Marquette, classes start Monday at Northern Michigan University. Wayne State University in Detroit is welcoming freshmen on Saturday, with sophomore, juniors and seniors following on Sunday.

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College students in Michigan got some unwelcome news over the past week: tuition is going up at many universities and colleges, and interest rates on some of their loans will double.

This one-two punch of soaring costs and rising debt is being felt in many homes around Michigan.

There are more than 300,000 students in Michigan with federal loans. And the number of people taking out student loans and the amount they borrow continues to climb.

We wanted to get behind these headlines and look at just what this means to a typical college student in our state.

User: ellenm1 / flickr

You’ll have to pay an additional $900 a year to be a Wayne State student next school year.

The university is raising tuition by 8.9%.

That’s especially tough on a student body that’s almost entirely from in-state.

And it’s a dramatic move for the school.

This year, every other public university in Michigan is playing along with a state deal: schools get access to an extra pool of state money, if they cap tuition hikes at 3.75%.

But that incentive isn’t enough to make up for deeper cuts from the state.   

user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

We've heard about the tuition increases for other public universities in Michigan.

Tomorrow, the board of regents for Wayne State University will vote on that school's increase.

David Jesse over at the Detroit Free Press reports it could be a big one:

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is facing a potential class action lawsuit over a student loan program.

Beginning in 2003, the Michigan Students First loan program offered college students an interest rate subsidy after their first 36 on-time loan payments, effectively reducing their interest rate to zero.

But in 2010, the subsidy was ended.

Attorney Jeff Hank says that left thousands of Michigan college students having to pay more in student loans than they had originally planned.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - New legislation would give college graduates an income tax credit for their student loans if they stay in Michigan after graduation.

The credit would be equal to half the amount paid on qualified student loans in a tax year but couldn't exceed 20 percent of the average annual tuition at Michigan's public universities. To be eligible, students would have to be a state resident, a graduate of a Michigan university and have earned a bachelor's degree.

Democratic Senator Glenn Anderson of Westland says his bill introduced last week gives graduates an incentive to stay in Michigan and helps address the "brain drain" of grads leaving the state. His legislation is backed by Democrats along with a couple Republicans in the GOP-led Senate.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Juniors and seniors at Rockford High School will be able to earn up to 30 credit hours at Ferris State University for free in a pilot program announced today.

Say you’re taking calculus at Rockford High School, when you get to college, you could test out of calculus but you wouldn't get any credits.

The pilot program differs from dual enrollment programs.

If a student passes a single calculus class, it will count toward both their high school diploma and their college degree.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Small business owners want Michigan to make its curriculum standards for high school students more flexible.

The state passed broad standards in 2006 for all students. They are supposed to ensure all students are ready for college.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum requires four years of math and English language arts; three years of science and social studies; and two years of a foreign language. Complete standards are outlined here.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Michigan colleges are stuck with a bill worth millions of dollars when students with federal grants drop out but keep the cash.

The Detroit Free Press says Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn likely will raise tuition, partly to repay $4.1 million to the federal government. Spokesman Gary Erwin says two-year colleges have been hit "particularly hard."

The Michigan Union
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Universities across the country are opening up campus housing to transgender students and it's happening right here in Michigan.

The University of Michigan housing has announced it will set aside a block of gender neutral rooms for transgender and gender non-conforming students in the fall of 2013, as a part of the gender inclusive living experience.

We speak with Amy Navvab, a student at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Open Housing Initiative, and Amanda Hobson, Residential Coordinator at Ohio University where gender neutral housing is already available to students.

Listen to the interview above.

Dartmouth College

It was announced yesterday that University of Michigan provost Phil Hanlon will become the next president of Dartmouth College starting July 1, 2013.

Hanlon, 57, is a graduate of Dartmouth and will become the college's 18th president.

In a New York Times piece, Hanlon indicated that university funding, in its current form, is reaching a breaking point:

Dr. Hanlon, who will be the 10th Dartmouth graduate to become its president, said he expected to focus closely on the college’s cost structure and finances. “The historic funding model for higher ed is close to unsustainable,” he said. “We can’t continue superinflationary tuition increases.”

Stateside: Paying off a degree of debt

Nov 27, 2012
Western Michigan University's Main Campus
user TheKuLeR / Wikimedia Commons

Graduating from college brings with it many things -  four years of academic achievement, a degree, and for some... substantial financial debt.

Continuing our student debt conversation we spoke today with Detroit Free Press financial columnist Susan Tompor. Pam Fowler, Executive Director of Financial Aid at the University of Michigan, also joing us.

According to Tompor, one of the primary reasons students fall so deeply into debt is their failure to record the money they borrow.

Natalie Kolb / Image used with permission of The State News

Update: September 27, 2012 1:15 pm 

The Ingham county prosecutor won't press any charges in the alleged assault and hate crime involving MSU student Zachary Tennen - and Tennen's family supports that call.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — No charges will be brought following an investigation into an assault on a Michigan State University student who claimed he was punched and had his jaw broken because he's Jewish, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Ladwein

This next story is about an epic friendship between a white, 76-year-old Grand Rapids teacher, and the driven Liberian boy she inspired 50 years ago when she was a young Peace Corps volunteer.

Their bond has survived hunger, poverty, and a brutal civil war. And it’s created ripples across Liberia, leading to the country’s first school for social workers . Now, it’s reuniting both friends back here in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Governor Snyder's office / State of Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder said Michigan and the rest of the country lost sight of the value of vocational training as young people were encouraged to get four-year college degrees. The governor spoke today at a business conference in Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Policy Forum.

He said too many students have been pushed toward getting four-year college degrees when vocational education or community college might have made more sense.

“And so we sorta messed up over the past 20 or 30 years, 40 years. We’ve lost the focus on how important those roles are,” said Snyder.

The governor said the result is thousands of jobs in skilled trades go unfilled while people are looking for work.

“How dumb was that? I mean, if you stop and think about it. So we did supply on one chart, demand on another chart, and when everyone knows we need to have one chart where we bring supply and demand together, and create talent, and connect it,” said Snyder.

Snyder says he intends to convene a summit of educators and employers early next year to get a better sense of where the demand for jobs is strongest – and use that information to help re-design Michigan’s education system.

The governor has also called for stronger integration of pre-school through post-high school education.

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) - Oakland University in suburban Detroit and its professors have reached a three-year proposed tentative contract agreement.

The agreement was announced early Friday in a posting on the website of the 700-member Oakland University chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Details of the proposed agreement are expected to be made public later. It's expected to include pay increases, merit pay adjustments and changes to benefits.

Classes begin Tuesday at the school. Voting to ratify the contract likely will take place in a few weeks.

In 2009, professors at the school went on strike for a week starting the day classes were expected to begin before a tentative contract agreement was reached.

Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Eastern Michigan University officials announced today they've reached a tentative agreement with the union representing EMU faculty members.

The current contract with the union was set to expire at midnight on August 31. EMU students start classes on Wednesday, September 5.

EMU officials say the contract "provides for salary increases of 2 percent per year for each year of the contract, as well as changes to health care plans."

Student debt by year
Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Students at Michigan's five largest universities sought more loans to pay for college, according to a Detroit Free Press database

These students will join recent graduates around the country whose outstanding private and federal education debts have topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the data, as of 2010, students in Michigan have the 11th highest average debt of any state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows a growing percentage of Michigan young people have college degrees.

But one expert says the state must do more to keep those graduates from leaving the state.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s going to cost the average Michigan State University student $210 more to attend the fall semester.

The MSU Trustees today approved a 3.5 percent tuition increase for next year.  

The increase will be slightly higher for out-of-state students.

Lou Anna Simon is president of MSU. She says no one wants to raise college tuition.

“There are stories about students who are definitely in debt at a higher level than they should be,” Simon told the MSU Board of Trustees before the vote.

Other Michigan public colleges and universities also approved tuition hikes this week, including the University of Michigan and Michigan Tech.

Wikimedia Commons

Federal data show that a federal court district in Michigan ranks number one in the country for the number of federal lawsuits filed against individuals who default on their student loans.

Relative to population size, defaulters in the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit) were prosecuted at a rate about 10 times the national average during March 2012.

The Central District of California (Los Angeles) came in second, and the Northern District of New York came in third.

Out of the 279 suits filed in March, 57 were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, 140 in the Central District of California and 13 in the Northern District of New York.

The report, published by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, compared the total number of civil filings per month since March 2007. The number remained relatively stable (between 200 and 250) until Spring 2009, when it dipped slightly, bottoming out at 168 in December of that year.

The number then rose substantially to 598 in April 2011 before declining again towards the early 2009 average.   

The Eastern District of Michigan’s leadership in per capita student debt lawsuits is nothing new. The court topped the ranks five years ago and came in second last year, according to the TRAC report.

The Institute for College Access & Success, a non-profit research and policy organization, reported that 60 percent of 2010 Michigan graduates carried student debt, owing an average of $25,675 — the 11th highest average in the nation.

- Suzanne Jacobs, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

It's graduation season across the country, and students are deciding what they want to do with their lives.

Seventy-one-year-old Ernie Caviani is a piano tuner and technician. He says following your passion is key.


Commentary: College for all?

May 3, 2012

It’s hard to see the future. If you had been around during the Cretaceous Period, sixty-five million years ago, it would have been obvious that the world belonged to the huge and magnificent dinosaurs which dominated the planet.

Nobody would have paid much attention to the little rat-like things called mammals scurrying around the forest floors. But in the end, they would inherit the earth.

Dani Davis

The University of Michigan is leading an effort to get the arts to play a bigger role at research universities.

Reading, writing, and "making" are the skills Theresa Reid wants to see emphasized in higher education.

Eastern Michigan University students who want to immerse themselves in Jewish history and culture will now be able to get credit for it; the school now offers a minor in Jewish Studies.

Marty Shichtman is director of Jewish Studies at EMU. He says classes will range from the history of Judaism to the Holocaust to the state of Israel and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

AndrewH324 / Flickr

University of Michigan students are harnessing the power of Facebook to promote a bone marrow registry drive to take place tomorrow at the Michigan Union.

A Michigan student who recently became ill with a severe bone marrow disease could potentially find the bone marrow donor he needs at tomorrow’s event.

Daniel Lee, a junior at the University of Michigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia just over a month ago. His condition means his bone marrow no longer produces enough blood cells and he needs an emergency bone marrow transplant.

University of Michigan junior, Jessica Kaltz began planning the bone marrow drive several months ago. She organized the event in partnership with her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and DKMS, a non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors.

Kaltz, who says she was unaware one of her classmates might benefit when she came up with the idea, says, “It’s amazing to see how many people care when you put a face to the cause.”

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Michigan State University’s Human Medicine program is expanding its research facilities far away from East Lansing.

Last month, MSU announced its buying the old Grand Rapids Press building.  This week, developers say they hope to turn an old newspaper building in Flint into a home for MSU medical researchers.

Aron Sousa is an associate dean at the MSU College of Human Medicine.  He says expansions in Grand Rapids and Flint, as well as Midland and Traverse City, reflect the communities’ needs.

“Both the college [of Human Medicine] and the university want to be more active across the state.  We’re the land grant school for the state of Michigan.  We take that mission and that history seriously," says Sousa. 

 MSU is ending some medical programs in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, to make way for new medical schools at Western and Central Michigan Universities.

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