Marygrove College bucks convention, lowers tuition

It’s that time of year again. Colleges and universities are raising tuitions.

Big state schools say they have no choice as government support continues to decrease. Five percent one year. Eight percent the next. It’s been going for so many years that the cost of higher education has increased 538 percent since 1985.

That’s why Marygrove College made headlines — and turned heads — recently when it lowered tuition for a third of its students.

You read that right. The Detroit college dropped tuition 16.5 percent for part-time students.

“The whole question of affordability and access is huge nationally and it is exponentially so for us, because we serve so many students who have a disproportionately high need,” said Marygrove’s outgoing president, David J. Fike.

It may have been a shocking move. But it’s in line with the traditions and values at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Keeping costs down and providing ample financial aid to students is just one of many differences with big public schools.

Almost all of Marygrove’s students who maintain B averages receive financial aid. It’s a similar story at most other Michigan independents, where more than 93 percent of students receive aid. That brings the costs of a world-class college within reach — a priceless education that is affordable.

Cost is just one of many differences. So are class sizes, which are significantly smaller. And relationships between students and professors, who actually teach classes rather than delegate them to post-graduate teacher assistants.

The schools value community over crowd, allowing students to forge their own path to success. And they boast graduation rates that are superior to big public universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.