HOUGHTON — At a special meeting Thursday, Michigan Technological University’s Board of Control approved a general fund budget of $165.5 million for fiscal year 2013, which starts this July 1. The general fund, which covers the operating expenses of the university, is one of five components of the current fund, which will total $256.5 million for fiscal 2013.

The general fund budget includes a tuition increase of 3.9 percent for Michigan resident undergraduates, less than the 4 percent cap set by the state for universities to receive tuition restraint funding. The average tuition for Michigan residents will be $14,448, an increase of $538 over fiscal 2012.

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State appropriations for Michigan Tech are expected to total $42.4 million, approximately 17 percent of the total university budget. State funding will increase $1.7 million over the current year, reversing a decade-long slide in state appropriations that included a $7.2 million cut last year alone.

The increase in state funding enabled Michigan Tech to pass the lowest tuition increase in eight years.

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Unfortunately, state law requires the university to return $5.6 million of the state appropriation to the state to pay the University’s levy for retirees still covered under the Michigan School Employees Retirement System, costing Michigan Tech the equivalent of $800 per student. If those retirees were on the university’s current retirement plan, tuition could be $800 lower, the Board was told.

Corrected for inflation, the state appropriation is the same as it was in the late 1960s, when Michigan Tech had 4,000 students instead of the 7,000 it has today.

Even so, President Glenn Mroz praised the state and the Business Leaders of Michigan — who campaigned for an increased higher education budget — for their efforts to reverse “a decade of disinvestment in higher education. They have recognized that we need more educated people, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields to power Michigan’s economy. And STEM is what we do. It’s an investment in the future of Michigan.”

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In other business, the board approved appointment with tenure of Gene Klippel, new dean of the School of Business and Economics. Klippel previously served as business school dean from 1994 to 2003. During that time, he led the School to accreditation buy the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International. (AACSB).