Michigan Considers Free Tuition

Michigan Democrats have introduced a plan to pick up the tab for tuition at state universities — up to $9,500 a year — for every student who has attended Michigan schools for his entire K–12 career. The plan is expected to cost $1.7 billion per year, or $442 for every household in the state. It is a dramatic change from the status quo — currently, Michigan subsidizes its state universities less than almost any other state. And it is a terrible idea — it is a handout to middle- and upper-class parents and students, as well as an incentive for unprepared students to attend college.

According to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Michigan’s colleges operate on a “higher tuition/higher aid” model — meaning that relative to other states’ colleges and universities, they charge a high tuition to students who can afford to pay, but then offer steep discounts to students from low-income families. Using this calculator, you can see estimates of what a college’s tuition plus room and board costs for in-state students in different income ranges, once grants and scholarships are factored in.

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