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Neutral tuition impact should help NMU students

Setting tuition rates and dealing with financial matters are challenging processes, even in the best of times.

With the COVID-19 crisis, it’s more difficult.

That’s why we’re happy that Northern Michigan University has found a way to possibly have a zero net increase for many students this fall semester.

The NMU Board of Trustees on Tuesday increased tuition $215 per semester for resident undergrads, or 3.71%. However, two grants — one an NMU-funded grant and another using federal stimulus money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund — could effectively lower that amount to $0 for the fall.

NMU President Fritz Erickson said it was important to keep an increase minimal because of the financial burden the COVID-19 pandemic has put on students and families. Of course, the future is unclear with state funding for fiscal year 2021 uncertain.

And of course, who knows what campus life will resemble in the fall? Should face-to-face teaching resume, safety protocols likely will have to be followed.

NMU already has invested more than $2 million in COVID-19-related safety measures, which is enabling students to return to face-to-face instruction. These include COVID testing for students and employees; new testing equipment for the NMU Health Center; health care staff for quarantine/isolation areas; and protective equipment and products.

Students returning to Northern for the 2020-21 school year have enough to worry about, what with their regular studies and what will probably be more COVID-19 issues. Lessening their financial burden should be a welcome relief.

NMU Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Mitchell said the zero net increase will benefit the university and the students.

We agree. NMU’s “neutral impact” way of dealing with tuition is an effective way of handling financial matters for students while keeping the university solvent, and should it continue into the winter semester, bodes well for the future.

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