Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

U-M unveils ‘Go Blue Guarantee’

Victors valiant

The University of Michigan will launch a new financial aid program for in-state residents that offers a “Go Blue Guarantee” of free tuition for up to four years for students with family income of up to $65,000.

The new program — which includes families earning up to what is roughly the state’s median income — will launch Jan. 1, 2018. It was approved in June 2017 by the University’s Board of Regents as part of the fiscal year 2018 general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus.

“Today, our long-standing commitment to ensuring that qualified students from Michigan can afford a U-M education becomes a guarantee,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “The ‘Go Blue Guarantee’ cuts through the complexities of financial aid to help us reach talented students from all communities in our state. I have always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not. The ‘Go Blue Guarantee’ helps us ensure wider opportunity.”

Go blue guarantee graphic

“Be bold”

The guarantee amplifies the University’s long-standing commitment to meet financial need for all in-state students and it does not reduce any need-based aid for students from families earning more than $65,000. In fact, many in-state students from families earning up to $125,000 a year are awarded scholarships and grants that pay half their tuition.

“I must thank the members of the Board of Regents for their dogged commitment to access and affordability of a U-M education,” Schlissel said at the June 2017 Regents meeting. “They urged us to be bold, and the ‘Go Blue Guarantee’ could not have happened without their encouragement and support. And tremendous credit also goes to our generous donors whose philanthropic commitment to financial aid underlies the financing of the ‘Go Blue Guarantee.'”

The “Go Blue Guarantee” provides four years of free tuition to students with a family income of up to $65,000, within certain asset limits. The $65,000 benchmark is roughly equal to the state’s median family income of $63,893 (2015). These students also may be eligible for additional aid to cover non-tuition costs. The program applies to students attending the Ann Arbor campus.


Interim Provost Paul Courant, the chief academic and chief budget officer, says the “Go Blue Guarantee” is based, in part, on first-year results of the HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) scholarship.

The HAIL effort found that targeted communication and simplifying the aid application process for high-achieving, low-income students markedly increased the number of those students enrolling at U-M. There were 262 HAIL Scholars in the fall 2016 freshmen class. The HAIL pilot is now in its second year.

U-M has long made financial aid a priority and again this year financial aid was increased by 9.5 percent ($15.3 million) in the general fund budget, bringing the total budget for need-based undergraduate financial aid to $176.7 million in the coming year.

This means financial aid in the coming year will more than cover the $424 increase in the most common lower-division, in-state tuition for the academic year that was approved in the general fund budget for fiscal year 2018. The University also provides need-based financial aid to out-of-state students and meets full financial need for those students from families with incomes up to $90,000 a year.

In-state undergraduate tuition will increase by 2.9 percent to $14,826 for the most common lower-division rate. Comparable tuition for out-of-state undergraduates will be $47,476, an increase of 4.5 percent. Tuition for most graduate programs will increase by 4.1 percent.

Need-based financial aid

The undergraduate financial aid budget has increased 11.3 percent per year, on average, over the past decade. This compares to an average annual growth rate of 4 percent for in-state undergraduate tuition.

The University’s generous need-based financial aid program includes all in-state students with financial need and typically includes Michigan families earning up to about $125,000 a year or more, depending on specific circumstances.

Courant explained that the University’s sustained attention to providing need-based financial aid means today’s students with financial need are paying less to attend U-M than students of a decade ago; that students are graduating with lower debt; and the average net price of attendance compares favorably with peer institutions across the nation. U-M has a six-year graduation rate of 90 percent, more than double the national average.

Courant, a noted economist and professor of public policy, said U-M’s commitment to the “Go Blue Guarantee” is extraordinary for a single campus at a public university.

Comparable “tuition guarantee” programs — like those in California and New York — are statewide programs that leverage substantial state grants made directly to students. The average state grant received by students at UCLA, for example, exceeds $10,000 a year, compared to the average state grant for Michigan students of $715.

“This makes the U-M commitment of University resources even more remarkable and critically important for these academically talented, in-state students,” Courant said. “We are making a commitment in order to make sure in-state students have access to the life-changing educational opportunities at a large research university like U-M.”

In a comparison that includes more than 30 other state flagship universities, only the University of Virginia has a higher average than U-M for institutional aid provided to incoming freshmen. The data from 2014-15 show U-M provides $13,796 on average for those students.

2018 Budget

The $2.05 billion general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus was approved by the Board of Regents on a vote of 7-1. Revenue includes an expected state appropriation of $314.6 million, up 1.9 percent; indirect cost recovery on research funding of $239 million, up 5.5 percent; $1.49 billion in revenue from tuition, and fees, up 6.8 percent.

In addition to supporting the University’s overall commitment to academic excellence and affordability, the approved budget provides new investments to enhance the student experience by expanding engaged-learning experiences and service-learning opportunities.

The budget devotes new funds to increase opportunities for students to collaborate with U-M’s world-class researchers; undertake experiences to work, study and do research in international settings; and obtain real-world experience through internships, client-centered assignments, and other immersive educational projects.

In the coming year, the University will launch a multiyear examination of large introductory undergraduate courses to explore how digital technology, evidence-based teaching methods, and other approaches can boost student performance and enhance engagement. This promises to be a high-impact investment, because almost one third of the credit hours generated in any given semester are taken in large foundational courses.

The budget includes support for ongoing work related to the University’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion; further investments in the biosciences; support for faculty to engage in public service; improvements in classroom technology; and adding more class sections with fewer than 20 students.

The total fiscal year 2018 operating revenue budget for the Ann Arbor campus, including Michigan Medicine, Athletics, University Housing, other auxiliary activities, and programs supported by designated gifts and grants, is $8.4 billion. Separately, the Regents approved tuition and housing rates on the UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn campuses and a small increase in the student fee to support the University Health Service.

Gifts and other non-general fund sources are increasingly important to the University’s financial health. Philanthropy is an essential component of the University’s commitment to academic excellence and access and affordability. The University has another year remaining in its Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign, which already has raised more than $4 billion and is closing in on a sub-goal of raising $1 billion for student support.

Housing rates

Regents approved a 1 percent increase for residence hall and apartment rental rates for fiscal year 2018 to cover increased costs and an additional 2 percent increase dedicated to funding major renovations of housing facilities. With a number of residence halls still in need of renovation, the overall 3 percent increase will support future upgrades while offsetting the projected rise in day-to-day operating costs for all buildings.

The cost per student for a double room with a basic meal plan will total $11,198 for the fall and winter terms, an increase of $326. Need-based grant aid will mitigate this increase for students with financial need. Rental rates in Northwood Community Apartments for graduate students and students with families will increase by an average of 1 percent.

University Housing is a self-funded auxiliary unit of Student Life within the University. Over the past 10 years, University Housing has embarked on a program of substantial cost controls, reducing costs by $16.7 million.




  1. Georgia Hale - 1987

    I am proud of my university. Thank you for removing another barrier to education and opportunity.


  2. Tyra Payne - 2017

    My daughter graduated form Wayne county community college this June 2017. The degree she received was associate of arts. My daughter has special needs,would she be able to apply for this program? Will your program accept her credits?


    • W. James Foster - 1969 MD

      “The budget includes support for ongoing work related to the University’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion” and I presume this is similar to other liberal state & private schools. If these programs are designed to foster greater appreciation and less prejudice for all people and thereby promote attitudes of equality and inclusion of ALL groups, recent postings on the internet in the wake of the recent murder of Otto Warmnier by the North Korean regime would seem to indicate your efforts, as well as those of others in the liberal progressive camp, have been miserably ineffective: Otto, as a privileged white male apparently does not merit inclusion and he more or less received just what he deserved.


      • Dean Gilchrist - LS&A 1956

        What does Otto Warmner have to do with the question about a special needs student? Why don’t you just spell out what’s on your mind?


  3. John Lossing - 1966

    Go Blue Guarantee is a socialist wealth redistribution scheme. It means that successful Michigan families of a child not only have to pay for their own child but for the child of another family.
    This is a socialist agendum.
    The fact that it covers illegal immigrants proves its idiocy.
    A boycott of U of M by successful families is advised.


    • Jim Hallett - 1972

      My sentiments exactly! The Bernie Sanders commie plan comes to UM, but are you really surprised. Considering that coloring books and Play-Doh were provided the day after the election in the quiet spaces so “students in trauma” could escape. UM has done many good things, but their constant adherence to left-wing agenda items is appalling. It is always someone else who has to foot the bill. Are any of the profs donating a free class to teach those admitted under this program? I didn’t think so!


    • Michael Newberry - 1987

      … a “socialist wealth redistribution scheme”? Please. I would surmise that you balk at paying for other people’s roads and fire departments too. Do you believe that the genes for ability and talent correlate with the income of parents?


      • Jim Hallett - 1972

        Most of what passes for govt. “services” are INDEED socialist redistribution schemes, including roads, fire & police protection, and of course, what is referred to as public education. Intelligence (and any other trait) are NOT related to income, but neither does any one person’s intelligence create a claim on another’s wealth in order to provide for their education – at UM or anywhere else.


  4. Amanda Wilkins - 2016

    This is as innovative and bold as can be and I support the intention of allowing accessibility to low income students. However those of us that have acquired significant debt, worked through college and could barely afford textbooks are bound to feel the shaft. Because these students will have the same thing we worked so hard for and make a U of M grad a more and more common thing.


    • James Mercier - 2003

      It shouldn’t make a U-M degree any more common; low-income students still have to gain admission.
      I do feel for recent graduates who have to carry a lot of debt, though.


    • Michael Newberry - 1987 Ph.D.

      The student still must satisfy the same rigorous admission standards required of you, me, and every other applicant. The income-dependent sliding scale between free and reduced tuition is applied *after* admission. It is gratifying to see Michigan join Harvard in making a world-class education available to families who are not wealthy.


  5. Art Schwartz - 1967

    Many U of M professors teach only two or three classes per year while writing ” research ” papers read by very few and helping to improve the lives of no one. Tuition would not need to be raised if U of M professors taught more classes and spent less time writing useless academic papers.


    • Michael Newberry - 1987 Ph.D.

      The mission of higher education is two-fold: creating knowledge and disseminating knowledge. This dual role has facilitated the advancement of civilization over the last several hundred years, particularly so following the massive expansion of government educational funding that followed WW-II. Research published in refereed journals read by, perhaps, only 30 other specialists worldwide is an essential component of the quest for new knowledge — knowledge that leads to advancements in science, technology, medicine, etc., all of which lead to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life for everyone.


  6. Thomas Cislo - 1972

    Great news on the financial aid for in-state students beginning January 2018. This will make the Michigan academic experience available to more applicants!


  7. Roger Szafranski - 1977

    I respect peoples opinions even when I TOTALLY disagree with them. However, in keeping with that sediment Dr. W. James Foster commenting earlier should be ashamed of his comment of Otto Warmnier! To actually say that Otto, “more or less received just what he deserved” is appalling!


  8. Roger Szafranski - 1977

    Have you ever been out having drinks in a group and when it’s time to pay everyone throws in the money for their drinks and the appropriate tip to cover themselves and total comes up short? It inveritably happens, especially within groups of people that expect others to foot the bill for them. Than the saps left at the table have to make up the difference. The ‘Go Blue Guarantee’ is another perfect example of this. Why is it that people think others should foot the bill for them? When I want to give money to a charity or some guy on the street that is my “choice.” But to have people expecting me, or others, to foot the bill for them irritates me to no end! What ever happened to the Bible passage “Teach a man to fish?” Agree or not, this is exactly why the Democrats lost the election. It was this thinking of Hillary and Bernie that sunk their campaigns!


  9. Patrick Cardiff - 1990

    If even a few people can’t attend UM because they do not have the money, how does that make us a “university?” What does it say about UM’s commitment to every potentially great mind? Privilege, inheritance and entitlement are barriers. Inclusion of all types is evolutionary.


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