Maybe you've seen the billboards, or read it in the newspaper. (Does anyone read newspapers anymore?)
By billboard, you'll notice it by the three big, fat zeroes under the words Tuition, Room, and Board.
Eastern Michigan University, my haunts circa 1981-85, is doing something no Michigan university has done in some 25 years.
It's holding its rates of tuition, room and board flat for the 2010-11 school year, from the current year.
They're calling it the "Big, Fat Zero" campaign.
This after one of the smallest rate hikes in the state last year---just 3.82 percent.
"We recognize how desirable an affordable, quality college education is," EMU President Sue Martin said. "I applaud the Board of Regents for taking this necessary risk."
The "risk," of course, is financial on EMU's part. A zero percent increase means you can't count on additional dollars in the budgeting process.
Not unless you increase enrollment.
See how that works?
What's "Big, Fat Zero"? EMU students and staff "spell it out" for you
President Martin's university is banking that a zero percent increase across the board, combined with a tiny increase last year, will make EMU more attractive to not only incoming freshmen, but current students as well, so that they'll continue their education at Eastern.
As it stands now, an in-state student taking 30 credit hours for the school year will pay roughly $8,300 for tuition, room and board. That's not too bad these days.
EMU is also making news with an aggressive fundraising campaign---no doubt encouraged by their "Big Fat Zero" initiative---that aims to raise $50 million.
It's called "Invest, Inspire," and here's how they're describing it on the university's website:
EMU is seeking $50 million in philanthropic support from alumni and friends, businesses and foundations, parents and employees. This support will allow EMU to sustain its current excellence while also adding new resources, key capital projects and programs, through its endowment. In other words: In the face of shrinking resources and state funding, this support will endow EMU’s future.
So how does Eastern propose to raise $50 million?
Answer: they don't have to---they've already raised over $34 million.
You heard me.
If you go to the campaign's page on the EMU website, you'll see an odometer-looking thing. The university is less than $16 million away from its goal.
And they just kicked off the campaign about a month ago---on April 19, 2010.
All this, of course, makes an old EMU alum like me pretty proud.
Now, about that football program...
Zero, you see, was also the EMU win total in football last year.