Ohio University Mulling 2015 Tuition Increase

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The Ohio University Board of Trustees was presented with a possible tuition hike between .5 and two percent at its Thursday joint committee meeting.

University Vice President of Finance and Administration Steve Golding laid out the pros and cons of a possible increase, which would go into effect the fall of 2015, the same semester the university is expected to implement a guaranteed tuition model. Golding said a one percent spike would bring in $1.6 million in revenue to the university. A 1.5 percent increase would bring in $2.5 million. The board will vote on the proposed increase at a later date.

Current tuition for Ohio residents at the Athens campus is $15,570. Out-of-state students pay just over $29,000 per year.

In the same presentation, Golding made a pitch for the university to hire a treasury manager. He said the university was "leaving money on the table" by not having anyone in that official position. Golding said the new position wouldn't be paid for by the potential tuition increase but by other funds.

The tuition raise will be a part of the full budget proposal, which is to be presented and moved upon in the board's June meetings.

University administrators are expected to meet with each school dean between now and the June board meeting to discuss the budget and potential tuition increase.

Interdisciplinary was a buzz word at the morning session, where Eva Klein and university Provost Pam Benoit talked extensively about getting departments and professors to collaborate with other departments on curriculum and projects. Klein of Eva Klein & Associates, a consulting firm hired by the university to oversee the process, repeatedly said that "breaking down the silos" that universities are built on was "the hardest thing an administration can do" because of how deep-seeded the ideas are in academia. Klein testified that OU is farther along than any other institution she's encountered.

A symbol of the interdisciplinary process could be found in the renaming of the Clippinger Hall science building renovation as the "Interdisciplinary Science Facility."

Members of the board then asked what the best practices are for integrating programs. Klein cited North Carolina State University, which she said that by using incentive-based collaboration and by "dangling money" instead of spreading it around evenly grew research funding from $80 million to $400 million in a decade.

The university is also making an effort to help its "highest need" students, the ones who have no financial help from family. Compared to 2013, the average highest need student in 2014 will get $700 more per year in financial aid from the university and $85 extra in Federal Pell Grants.