OT - Student claims University of Michigan discriminates against veterans

Submitted by Cold War on February 21st, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Brian Stone, 26, returned home to Dearborn after spending four years overseas with the U.S. Navy.

He was excited to resume his studies at the University of Michigan until, he says, the university billed him as an out-of-state student, increasing his tuition by $10,000 each year.

"And then I got a letter in the mail saying that due to my overseas service that I may be considered an out-of-state resident. I had a $6,000 bill that was left for me," Stone said.

The sophomore went before university leaders late Thursday afternoon on behalf of the Student Veterans Association. Stone believes the University of Michigan unfairly uses its residency policy against veterans with overseas tuition in order to charge them out-of-state tuition...





February 21st, 2013 at 8:10 PM ^

College/grad school tuition sucks.  Med school charges 30,000 a yr and 60,000 for out of staters!  What's even more upseting is that a friend who graduated 8 yrs ago only paid 15 grand.  How do you double tuition in 8 yrs?


February 21st, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

The cost of university attendance in this country is scandalous.  American college students have to spend more money to go to college than their counterparts anywhere else in the world.  We're saddling an entire generation with debt that will take many years to pay off.  This is something that's going to have long-term repercussions for our country's economy and society.  

Sure, it's no fun to deal with a difficult economic climate where state appropriations are reduced, but passing the cost off to the students, year after year (at rates that invariably exceed inflation), is the most unproductive way to go after the problem.  Instead of finding ways to reduce costs, schools are just robbing their own students of their future income.    I'm glad that I managed to get through U-M before tuition got too out-of-hand, but I feel terrible for current students.




February 21st, 2013 at 11:28 PM ^

And the really sad thing is that if you look at where the spending is going, it's almost exclusively going to administration, rather than new faculty positions. The absolute number of administrators at the average university has increased something like three-fold over the last 20 years, while tenure-track faculty has pretty much remained static.


February 22nd, 2013 at 8:17 AM ^

Of course, most of the reason for the increase in adminstration is the increase in regulations from the Federal Government, increasing the need for oversight positions in administration to make sure money is being spent properly.  Decrease regulation, and decrease the number of necessary administration positions. 



February 22nd, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

Well, kinda, but not quite. The problem is that the Federal government says that banks have to issue student loans to anyone regardless of risk. What the banks get back is the guarantee that the loans will be remain (no bankruptcy). So if loans can be safely made to anyone regardless of risk, there is no incentive to keep prices in check. The banks don't care to whom and how much because they are guaranteed to get their money back, so thre is no true market for education.


February 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

Without getting political also, I have several thoughts about the program.

For starters, the current rate, 3.4 percent, is higher than certain mortgage rates and is not renegotiable  as are other forms of indebtedness.  From what I also understand, interest rates for graduate school loans are not 3.4 percent, but can be 6.8 percent or higher.  Maybe some of our grad students can weigh in on this topic, particularly med, law or MBA students, as many of the engineering/science PhD programs are tuition-free and include stipends.


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

That's a common explanation, but I don't find it compelling at all. Such duties and positions account for a small fraction of university administrators.

I think it has to do with a change within universities themselves away from faculty governance and toward administrative rule. Fulltime, career administrators have been very good at consolidating power and justifying their importance within the larger university bureaucracy, largely because they see university administration as a career in itself, rather than what it used to be: primarily a temporary sojurn for faculty (usually when paying their own kids' tuition) before returning to teaching.

More here.




February 22nd, 2013 at 12:55 AM ^

I have this conversation about this with many others, and there is a lot of interesting factoids (unverified):

1. College enrollment has only gone up about 7% (as % of the population) over the past ~50 years.

2. Its much easier to get access to private (i.e. scholarships) or public funds (i.e. student loans) these days.  It took me about 30 minutes to get my grad school loan to Michigan.

2. College tuition as % of per capita GDP has stayed pretty steady.  HOWEVA, not for big brand schools. 

The laws of demand are in full affect for big brand schools, but the supply for available schools are increasing.  Therefore, college is fully available at a reasonable cost, you just have to go to somewhere other than the Michigans of the world. 


February 21st, 2013 at 8:13 PM ^

It was my understanding that all State Universities in Michigan agreed in 2007 to provide in-state tuition for people in this individual's situation. And the reason I think so is that I sort of brokered that deal.

snarling wolverine

February 21st, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

I can believe it.  The University's financial people can be real assholes on this issue.  I've known people who have lived almost their entire lives in Michigan but because they happened to live out-of-state for a year or two before they enrolled (and then moved back to Michigan), the University declared them "out-of-state." 

snarling wolverine

February 21st, 2013 at 10:25 PM ^

I find it amusing that , even though you know none of the details to which I refer, you're willing to blindly defend these people.  

I know someone who lived in Michigan his entire life except for his first two years of high school.  (Not his last two - his first two.  He was back in the state for his junior and senior year.)  U-M made him pay out-of-state tuition.  You want to tell me that's fair?

If the University's financial folks can find any pretext to call someone out-of-state, they will do it.  I guess it makes sense from their perspective - some of them might be facing layoffs if they couldn't come up with new revenue streams.  But it's shitty as hell for the students involved.




February 21st, 2013 at 10:40 PM ^

The situation you described sounds fair to me. They have to draw a cut off somewhere. Pretty sure the current cut off for how long ago you can have lived in a different state is five years. At least I think that's what it was when I was applying. For both Michgan and the state I'm from. 


February 22nd, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

My GF lived in Virginia for 9 months, came back, worked for the University for 3 years and was labeled as out-of-state when she applied to UM for grad school this year. 

She had to print her W2 off of Wolverine Access and take it to the financial aide office to prove her residency. 

They're dicks.


February 22nd, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

My GF lived in Virginia for 9 months, came back, worked for the University for 3 years and was labeled as out-of-state when she applied to UM for grad school this year. 

She had to print her W2 off of Wolverine Access and take it to the financial aide office to prove her residency. 

They're dicks.


February 21st, 2013 at 10:51 PM ^

but I have known many people to travel abroad in lieu of studies (for Umich) and come back and be told they are not in-state, because they have been gone for a year.  

HOWEVER, I have known some to have divorced parents (one in Mich and the other in Illinois) and live in Michigan their whole life and still be considered out of state.

I know this makes for a long post, but it is incredibly relevent:  I know a girl who I grew up with (known since 2nd grade I believe) who has not moved, been labeled as out of state just because of . . . ???

Love my future alma mater, but jeez, some of these cases are very upsetting.  


February 22nd, 2013 at 7:43 AM ^

If you are active duty military, you can continue to be a "resident" of your home state. After spending 6 and a half years away from Michigan while in the Marines, I was still a Michigan resident, my car had Michigan liscense plate, etc... The University is in the wrong on this issue if it turns out they are trying to push the issue of residency.


February 22nd, 2013 at 8:36 AM ^

As others have noted, they have to make a cut-off somewhere, and 2 years seems as reasonable as any.  Most states have residency requirements for a host of state-financed/administered utilities (like marriage, driver's license, etc.), and schooling is the same way.  I think the OP's linked story is a special case that should be treated differently, but while it sucks that two years was the cut-off for you it doesn't seem unreasonable.


February 21st, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

Where was his duty station while in the Navy?  For example, if he established residency in California while in the Navy, he would be entitled to in state tuition there.  If he had kept Michigan as his permanent residence, which you can do no matter where you are stationed, you maintain the right to in state tuition.  If you establish residency somewhere else, which many in the military do for lower tax rates, auto insurance, etc, you gain the benefits of that state.


February 21st, 2013 at 10:38 PM ^

I second this. Dude had the option, when enlisting/comissioning, to choose Michigan as his state-of-residency. If he didn't, then got stationed in say Great Lakes and chose IL as his state, that's on him.  I feel bad for the kid that he didn't know this, but his ignorance shouldn't be a reason for UM people to get insulted.

Ann Arbor Cardinal

February 21st, 2013 at 10:52 PM ^

(1) Article says he was overseas. (2) Letter he got from Michigan apparently denied him in-state tuition because of his "overseas service", not because he was a resident of some other state.

Obviously, getting the facts from only one side of the story, but there's no evidence he was stationed in another state and became a resident of that state. That may be what many in the military do, but it doesn't seem like that's what he did.


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

I would think wherever he is, if he is serving, then he should get the in state rate, if lower.  I just think if you are serving our country, the federal government or that state government should pick up the tab.


February 21st, 2013 at 8:24 PM ^

Saying the University discriminates against veterans because of this is a pretty big stretch.

It sounds like there might have been some missed paper work or maybe something like jvblaha said.

SF Wolverine

February 21st, 2013 at 8:23 PM ^

1991.  I grew up in MI, did two years in the Army, three years in college (out of state), another year in the Army, then came back for law school.  And paid in-state rates.  My brother did three years in the Army, then a year at CMU and three at UM; also paid in state.

My understanding of the rule was that if you had left the state only for college/military, it was not counted against you for residency purposes.  Fact that this guy was overseas should not impact that at all.  If you haven't "moved" to another state, you should still be a resident of Michigan.


February 22nd, 2013 at 7:28 AM ^

During my 20 yrs in the Air Force, I was a Michigan resident the whole time.  My leave and earning statement even said so.  I filed Michigan state tax returns.  As far as Michigan is concerned, I was still a resident.

UM may not necessarily "discriminating" against veterans, but they're rules/policies or what have you are very unfair to veterans.  Not to mention self-serving.


February 21st, 2013 at 8:23 PM ^

And in turn out of country on his own accord, so I can see the university's argument. Yet, residence is determined by domicile, which is the place you expect to return to when you finish your tour. If he didn't have a residence in Michigan and was in fact stationed somewhere else, the university has a good claim.

Then again, just give him in-state tuition so it's a good media move.


February 21st, 2013 at 9:21 PM ^

If he didn't have a residence in Michigan and was in fact stationed somewhere else, the university has a good claim.

Wrong....the school's policy states that: "If you are domiciled in Michigan at the time of entry into active military duty, missionary work, Peace Corps, or similar service, you are presumed to retain your eligibility for resident classification as long as you are on continuous active duty or in continuous service and continuously claim Michigan as the state of legal residence for income tax purposes."

Ann Arbor Cardinal

February 21st, 2013 at 9:53 PM ^

I was in this guy's scenario a few years ago, and the presumption was definitely that I was not a resident. It was a paperwork battle and unpleasant experience. I had lived in only two places in my life: Michigan and overseas, on orders, but I never was able to convince UM that I was a Michigan resident. (Eventually moot, since I went somewhere else.) I'm not saying UM shouldn't confirm someone's residency status with independent documentation; it's just that the presumption was - once I lived outside Michigan - I was proving my residency from ground zero.

Zone Left

February 21st, 2013 at 9:55 PM ^

Establishing residence for military members means becoming a resident for tax purposes. Lots of servicemen end up in Texas or Florida and choose to become residents so they don't need to pay state income tax there or at subsequent duty stations.

I kept Michigan residency for my entire term of service, so I stayed an in-state resident.


February 21st, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

"and continuously claim Michigan as the state of legal residence for tax income purposes."

As a military person myself, whose whole family has served (save for the little bro, but he's still 17), I know a lot of people switch residencies for those tax breaks. Like I said above, most people do it in states like IL (no income tax on military personnel).  I think he did the same when he went to basic, or A-school, or whatever. If he didn't then this would be a non-issue. 

Doc Brown

February 21st, 2013 at 8:32 PM ^

The university's policies on residency are ridiculous. I grew up in Muskegon, went to purdue for undergrad, while maintaining Muskegon as my permanent residence. I had to go in front of a residency officer to prove I was a Michigan resident.