Fact Finder: Can you afford college?

As the cost of tuition soars, student debt follows.

Public universities increase prices and students are responsible for handling the bill.

It TMs a situation critics refer to as a ~college user tax. TM

It TMs a play on words...what they are saying is we don't fund higher education enough said State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

Recent studies show Michigan TMs public universities have some of the highest prices in the country.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2010-2011 school year, in-state tuition cost $11,837 at the University of Michigan. At Michigan State, tuition was $11,152.

Compare that to Ohio.

Tuition cost is $9,420 at Ohio State University.

It is $9,603 at Ohio University.

In Indiana, the price-gap widens.

Indiana Sate University TMs tuition is $7,714.

At Indiana University, it will cost in-state residents $9,028.

Indiana and Ohio In-state students pay thousands less than Michiganders, but local lawmakers interpret these numbers in a different way.

The real question they fund their K-12 system at the same level? Indiana does not|so that is why we are not comparing apples to apples, said Schmidt.

Comparisons aside, 7&4 News wanted to now how Michigan students can earn a bachelors degree without stacking up tens-of-thousands of dollars worth of debt?

Local lawmakers point to community colleges.

The community colleges are doing a great job with very little income, and I think we're serving our student population well. I think the problem is we've got at the higher level universities and higher level colleges...quite frankly out of control as far as inflationary costs go, said State Rep. Ray Franz, R- Onekama.

This week, senate democrats recommended their own to way to combat inflationary costs.

Free college tuition by "eliminating corporate tax credits and ineffective tax loopholes."

The idea has drawn sharp criticism from house republicans.

We want to make Michigan business friendly. We want Michigan to attract these businesses and bring these jobs back. To pile new dollars, whether it's the terminology of "eliminating loopholes"....its all talk about increasing taxes on business, said Franz.

Democrats and republicans are at odds on how to help students avoid college debt, but both sides agree that it is a major issue that Michigan is struggling with.

Local lawmakers stress the importance of K-12 funding and hope to assist higher education as Michigan TMs economy gets back on track.

As we see some of that turning around|as manufacturers, as businesses are able to get going and moving forward...we are going to be able to see those tax revenues increase and we'll be able to put it back into education, Schmidt said.

We want to know what you think.

How do you think Michigan lawmakers should tackle this problem?

Should they put more funding into higher education?

Should they implement a business tax to alleviate tuition prices?

Leave your comments below.