(The Center Square) – The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and Community Colleges heard testimony about what life will look like for college students in the fall.
Higher education institutes will offer some in-person classes and remote options while adhering to safety precautions such as rearranging classrooms.
Mike Hanson of the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) said community colleges plan to deliver all classes possible online, but as well teach hands-on subjects such as welding in-person.
MCCA represents 28 public community colleges across Michigan.
Robert LeFevre, president of the Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU), said that a loss of 150 students on each of their 26 campuses could result in more than a $90 million drop in revenue.
MICU reported a $63 million immediate loss in revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic, including $28 million from refunding students’ room and board fees.
LeFevre said they put together a 40-page playbook to return safely.
Dan Hurley of the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU) called COVID-19’s fiscal impact to their budget “tremendous.”
They refunded housing and dining fees, absorbed other costs to convert to online classes, and canceled athletic camps.
Hurley said the impact to this fiscal year was a $571 million hit across their 15 public universities.
It’s facing a projected loss up to $1.27 billion next fiscal year.
Hurley said universities will need COVID-19 liability protections with the recognition the campuses will take heightened sanitary precautions and follow state and federal guidelines.
Michigan State University Interim Provost Teresa Sullivan said they will expect students to wear face masks at most times.
Last week, MSU announced it’ll return undergraduate on-campus instruction on Sept. 2 within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
MSU will rearrange classrooms, labs, libraries, and student lounges to accompany social distancing.
Exams will still be virtual.
Higher education representatives all emphasized their role to retrain many of the nearly 1.8 million Michiganders laid off between March 15 and May 13 as the legislature looks toward budget cuts after a $6 billion loss in revenue over this and next fiscal year.