The University Record, November 19, 1996

$1 increase in student fee will provide
scholarship fund for child care

By Julie A. Peterson
News and Information Services

The Board of Regents last week approved a recommendation by a University task force that student fees be increased $1 per term and that the funds collected be matched by the University to create a scholarship fund to support child care expenses for U-M students.

Reegents Andrea Fischer Newman and Deane Baker voted against the motion, though they said they supported the availability of child care for students. Newman disagreed because, she said, "I feel personally so strongly that matching funds not come out of the general fund for education." She added that she will try to raise donations privately so the money will not have to be drawn from the General Fund.

Baker said he did not back the measure because the task force did not report back to the Regents with a business plan. He said it would be "foolhardy" to guarantee the use of matching funds without having a full idea of the costs that will be associated with the program.

The task force was formed by Provost J. Bernard Machen and Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen Hartford in October to look at the child care needs of the U-M community and make recommendations on how the University ought to address those needs. The task force presented an interim report to the Regents during their regular meeting Nov. 13.

A $1 per-term increase in the student fee, approved by the student body last year, would generate about $73,000 per year. The Regents approved the student fee increase and also a proposal that the University match those funds dollar for dollar out of the General Fund. The resulting scholarships will be administered by the Office of Financial Aid with the assistance of a small oversight committee comprised of students, faculty and staff.

The task force report estimated that 20 percent of U-M graduate students and a much smaller number of undergraduates have children. It noted that while the University has six child care facilities, only one center is licensed to take infants and that center does not accept children of U-M students. "It is a fact," the report stated, "that the cost of full-time child care on the Ann Arbor campus generally exceeds the cost of an academic year’s undergraduate tuition." And while infant care is available at non-University child care centers, "the costs are generally as high or higher than at the U-M centers."

The report also cited a research study which found that undergraduates who received financial aid for child care had higher grade-point averages and a better retention rate than those who did not receive such aid.

The task force noted that "the time was too short to do justice to all the issues affecting child care needs on campus as a whole," and asked the Regents to view the interim report as "the foundation for a later report when the committee has had the required time to deliberate carefully, collect the necessary data, and establish some longer-range plans and goals for the campus community as a whole."