Tuition Increases, Ridges Expansion On Agenda For OU Board Meeting

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The first meeting of 2018 for the Ohio University Board of Trustees will include talk of tuition increases and a new proposed “career fee.”

At the January 18 meeting of OU’s Joint Resources and Academics Committee, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Deborah Shaffer is set to present an update on budget planning and tuition and fees changes for fiscal year 2018.

While the university has the Ohio Guarantee framework which presents a set cost for students within the Guarantee cohorts, the incoming Fall 2018 student cohort might see an increase in tuition, fees and rates compared to the previous year’s cohort, according to a release by the university. The release also states that Ohio Revised Code “allows tuition rates to be increased by 1.3 percent” in a measurement based on the inflation rate from the Consumer Price Index.

This comes as university officials propose an expansion of the Ohio Guarantee to the regional campuses.

“The expansion will provide regional students and their families with the same predictability and transparency as the existing Athens Campus Ohio Guarantee,” the release stated, adding that the expansion is an attempt to simplify the regional rate structure.

The expansion would require approval by the Ohio Department of Higher Education before it could be implemented.

Increases are also being recommended for the Athens Campus residential housing rates and the Culinary Services rates. If approved, housing rates would go up 3.5 percent and culinary services rates would be up 2 percent.

“Culinary Services has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of meal plans it serves in the past six years, yet has maintained an average increase of 1.1 percent,” the release stated.

Students already under previous cohorts of the Ohio Guarantee would not see an impact from the increases.

A new fee is also being proposed during the January meeting. The “career fee” would be $6 per credit hour, to be implemented starting with the Fall 2018 incoming students in Athens and on regional campuses. Officials say the fee goes along with state goals of “workforce development and job attainment.”

“In order to support Ohio’s commitment to expanding career and leadership development opportunities and programming for students, University leadership is recommending the implementation of a new fee, the revenue from which would directly support those efforts,” the release stated.

This fee would also require approval by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Capital projects are also on the agenda for the meeting, including design and construction requests totaling $56 million. Those requests include renovation of the Russ Research Opportunity Center on West Union Street, renovation of buildings 13, 14 and 18 at The Ridges, and demolition of Ridges Building 20.

In December, the Ridges Advisory Committee made recommendations about the university’s Ridges Framework Plan. The committee agreed that the university should proceed with “basic renovations” to the three buildings proposed for administration relocation, and that Building 20 was a “non-contributing building that compromised the ‘sense of place’ at The Ridges,” according to a university release on the committee’s meeting.

The OU Board of Trustees will meet January 18 and 19 on the Athens Campus.