Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees, in a special Wednesday, June 17 meeting conducted via Zoom, approved a continuing 2020-21 general fund operating budget that includes room, board and tuition rates and fees for the upcoming academic year. The board further approved the future relocation of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and other items during the meeting.
Room and Board
The trustees approved a preliminary housing and dining budget for fiscal year 2021. The budget is $27.3 million, down from $29.2 million during the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2020. The university will provide residence hall students with a single room at the double room rate. This adjustment reduces the overall residence hall capacity and represents a reduction in revenue. The university plans to adjust and realign expenses to maintain a balanced budget.
Ferris’ 2020-21 tuition rates include an average undergraduate increase of 3.4 percent. The new rates are an increase of $12 per credit hour for freshmen and sophomores and $18 per credit hour for juniors and seniors. Kendall College of Art and Design tuition will also increase by 3.44 percent for undergraduate studio students from the U.S. and Canada. For Ferris and KCAD undergraduate general education students, the freshman and sophomore increase is 2.78 percent while the junior and senior increase is 3.98 percent.
Ferris’ tuition currently ranks in the bottom half among Michigan peers while its net price is among the bottom third in that group. Meanwhile, the university continues to rank prominently for its value as the national No. 5 Best Value University, according to College Consensus, and No. 5 Best Value Online University, by ValueColleges.com, among its Michigan peers.
The future tuition rates include funding for an additional $605,000 for student financial aid. That represents a 2.3-percent student aid increase to $26.7 million in total.
Additionally, the university has already responded to the financial challenges its students and their families face, particularly hardships brought on by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond its increase in student financial aid, the university is distributing to students more than $4.5 million in CARES Act grant funding and proactively awarded $1.2 million in institutional and private donor support through grants and the Student Hardship Fund. The Ferris Foundation’s Ferris Futures Scholarship Challenge also has helped create 223 new student scholarship endowments.
“This tuition increase has two major factors behind our action – the first being the $3-plus billion shortfall in the state of Michigan budget, which creates substantial uncertainty on the state funding we receive,” said Ferris President David Eisler. “The second is the financial impact of COVID-19 on Ferris, now estimated at losses of greater than $30 million. This increase assists the university in meeting students’ educational needs. It also ensures that Ferris can continue as a market leader in providing a personalized and relevant, career-oriented education students expect from us and the ability to create new programs that fuel and support economic growth for Michigan.”
Board members approved the administration’s recommendation of a 93-percent continuation of the 2019-20 general fund operating budget, which equates to $192.1 million, until the trustees are presented the final budget figures in the fall.
“We have worked hard to be good stewards of our resources and are mindful of the affordability of the education we provide,” Eisler said. “When the state has or is expected to reduce our funding, we have reduced our budget.”
The board approved moving the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts from its current location, at 2 Fulton West in Grand Rapids, to the nearby Woodbridge N. Ferris (WNF) Building on Kendall College of Art and Design’s campus. The move ensures greater financial sustainability as gallery space in the WNF Building, an area once used for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, will be converted to support UICA programming. UICA, particularly with the news of ArtPrize 2020’s cancellation, expected to play an even more significant role serving communities in the greater Grand Rapids area. UICA will continue its work to recognize and act against the inequities that systematically hurt artists, neighbors, and diverse communities and to show work that reflects the entire community.
Upon UICA’s relocation to the WNF Building, the university plans to sell the 2 Fulton West property.
The trustees are chair Amna P. Seibold, of East Grand Rapids; vice-chair Ana L. Ramirez-Saenz, of Grand Rapids; secretary Rupesh K. Srivastava, of Wixom; member-at-large Lori A. Gwizdala, of Bay City; Robert J. Hegbloom, of Norton Shores; Kurt A. Hofman, of Grand Rapids; Kari L. Sederburg, of East Lansing; and LaShanda R. Thomas, of Grosse Pointe.
The next regular meeting of the Board is Friday, Oct. 4 in Grand Rapids. Committee meetings begin at 10 a.m., followed by the 11 a.m. full board meeting.