Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 29, 2012

U-M working hard to keep college affordable, Coleman tells D.C. audience

President Mary Sue Coleman told members of Congress and others attending the 61st annual U-M Congressional Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Wednesday that the university is working hard to keep college affordable.

  Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, was the keynote speaker at the U-M Congressional Breakfast, which also featured an address by President Mary Sue Coleman. (Photo by Jayrol San Jose, Freed Photography)

In her remarks, Coleman talked about the impact of state funding cuts over the past 10 years, citing a drop from $359 million in 2002 to just $268 million this year. She said she believes higher education nationally and in Michigan is in "crisis," and said the situation requires bold action by all players in the college funding equation, including the state and federal governments, as well as alumni donors and corporate partners. She also said the university is doing its part to cut costs.

"Since 2003, we have cut general funding annual recurring costs by $235 million and are now working to identify $120 million more in savings by 2017," Coleman said. "We are committed to affordable education because all of us — not just students — benefit from an educated citizenry. It is our greatest contribution to society."

Also addressing the topic was keynote speaker Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Levin said state support is "essential to keeping college affordable for all students, especially low-income students," and said the federal government has an important role to play.

"That's why we in Congress need to ensure that federal student aid programs are adequately funded," Levin said. "Without robust funding for Pell grants and loans, students in Michigan and across the country will be shut out from college."

Levin also said stem cell research conducted at Michigan and other research universities is critical to helping find cures for diseases such as cancer.

More than 300 people attended the event, including Michigan Reps. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit; John Conyers, D-Detroit; John Dingell, D-Dearborn; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Dale Kildee, D-Flint; and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, a U-M alumnus.

Proceeds from the event go towards the U-M Club of Washington's scholarship fund, which supports four students from the D.C. area who attend U-M.