CMU plans to increase scholarships, financial aid

CMU trustees briefed on enrollment strategy
Board of Trustees Sept. 2013

Effective fall 2014, Central Michigan University students are likely to have more financial aid at their disposal. The CMU Board of Trustees learned of a plan to increase scholarship and financial aid packages today during a discussion of the university’s strategic enrollment management plan.

Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment and student services, said the new financial aid packaging is a work in progress; details will be ready later this fall.

“We’re re-engineering our entire financial aid and scholarship philosophy,” Johnson said.  “It’s been a decade since we’ve reviewed it this extensively.  We want our students to be successful.  We want their indebtedness to be low.”

The goals are to reward a larger pool of students for academic achievement and to increase aid to students with demonstrated financial need.  CMU increases its financial aid dollars every year. Since 2010, CMU has increased these funds by $14.6 million to a total of $55 million this year. 

CMU also distributes another $300 million in private and federal financial awards and grants.

The president’s cabinet is slated to discuss revisions in scholarships and financial aid later this month.

Several initiatives are under way to help CMU recruit students and increase the university’s retention rate:

  • Market research is slated to occur this winter to gain insight into the university selection process of students and parents.
  • A virtual tour is being created to give prospective students an intimate, digital look at CMU.
  • A constituent relationship management system will be implemented to advance the tracking of and communications with future CMU students.
  • An Office of Student Success has been created and five additional academic advisers have been hired.

Johnson reported that applications to CMU are up 24 percent and admissions to date are up 51 percent year-over-year for the fall 2014 class.

He also talked about the popularity of CMU’s Global Campus, particularly its online classes, among undergraduate students.  Global Campus undergraduate enrollment increased 4.4 percent this fall, to an all-time high of 2,763 students. 

Many students see it as a tremendous advantage to attend classes in person on campus while also taking online classes that fit their schedules — including during the summer.

Other items addressed by the CMU trustees include:

  • Approval of a lease for CMU’s Global Campus center in Columbus, Ohio, at a cost not to exceed $72,120 a year.
  • Approval of a lease with the Mount Pleasant Country Club for a year-round practice facility for the CMU women’s golf team at a cost not to exceed $40,000 per year.
  • Approved an independent audit of the university’s finances with a “clean, unqualified opinion,” of the highest level of assurance from Plante Moran. The audit did note an unfunded retirement liability of approximately $100 million for the Michigan Public Service Employees Retirement System. The liability will reduce the university’s unrestricted net assets beginning June 30, 2015.

During his regular report to the board, President Ross updated trustees on a number of academic accomplishments that continue to position CMU as a nationally acclaimed university. Text of the president’s full comments can be read here.