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The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s General Budget


The University of Michigan’s (UMich) Board of Regents approved a 1.9% hike in tuition and a 5.6% increase in undergraduate financial aid late June 2020 for the following academic year. The move was met with a lot of criticism from students.

I don’t intend to turn this into an opinion piece about the move, but it certainly intrigued me. Given this is the first time I actively know I’m living through a recession, I’m interested in seeing how the various institutions around me will be changing. UMich being a public university is particularly interesting, because most documents on administrative or financial matters are publicly available (albeit not always well-formatted).

After news of the hike and the, uh, strange circumstances surrounding the Regents’ “special session”, I was immediately drawn to the University’s budget. Thankfully it was fairly easy to find these statistics, but it soon became clear that interpreting these numbers would be a challenge.

All of the data used is available on the Office of Provost’s website. I had to manually transfer numbers from their annual reports into a simple spreadsheet, and this raw CSV can also be found here. I also plan to develop a comprehensive space for tracking/storing public reports/datasets belonging to the University, which you can find here (please contribute!).

At the time of writing, all the “work” (they’re really just line charts) below is mine. I’m only a silly kid trying to get an undergrad degree in Computer Science, and I do not claim to know anything about budgeting or finances in large organizations, so you are urged to dive deeper into the information presented here and not interpret my claims as facts. Furthermore, if you have any suggestions or corrections to information on this page, please feel free to contact me.

The University Budget (UB)

The University Budget uses a combination of various strategies that highlight unit-level activity, as well as allow broad control based on the University’s larger goal. The General Fund comprises “operating funds where attributed revenues and costs directly relate to the University’s academic mission. Its revenues include state appropriation, tuition and fees, indirect cost recovery, interest income, application fee, and General Fund Supplement. Its costs include financial aid, facilities, and taxes.” For the sake of simplicity (and my sanity), this page only contains information on the General Budget.

Departments like Athletics, Housing, Transportation, and more are documented under the “Auxiliary Activities”, and are essentially “self-sufficient”, receiving no taxpayer or tuition support. I may do a part II of this activity based on the Auxiliary Budget if I have the time.

The data below for all years through FY 2020 use data from the adjusted general fund, which accounts for transfers between units. I thought this may be more reliable for the past since it includes any changes that may have been made since the budget’s first approval.

Revenues in the General Fund have grown significantly, with an average annualized growth rate of 6.1% since 2004 through 2021.

The contribution of “Tuition and Fees” to total revenues has grown from 57% in 2004, to 73% in 2020, and is forecasted to be 74% of the total revenue in 2021. Meanwhile, “State Appropriation” has fallen from 29% in 2004 to 14% in 2020, and is forecasted to be about the same portion of the total revenue in 2021.


Continuous Line Charts

  1. Shows changes over time.
  2. Click on items in the legend to toggle their visibility in the chart.

Data Sources