OU Trustee Committee Advances Tuition Hike For Full Board’s Approval

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ATHENS (WOUB) — Ohio University’s Board of Trustees will decide on whether to approve a 3.5-percent increase in tuition at all Ohio University campuses Friday after the proposal received a committee’s approval.

Deb Shaffer, Vice President for Finance and Administration, explained reasons for the proposal to the Resources, Facilities, and Affordability Committee Thursday.

Wanting to inform prospective students of the cost of tuition in time for them to make a decision without the university knowing what state funding for higher education will look like is a major factor in the decision.

“We don’t know when the budget will come out,” Shaffer said. “But if state support would decrease, we don’t have any options –if they allow us to increase tuition– but to have that conversation.”

The 3.5-percent increase in tuition is being proposed in accordance with Ohio Revised Code, which sets allowable increases of tuition, fees and rates based on the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. This is then combined with a percentage increase allowed by the General Assembly, according to a press release announcing the proposal.

“The administration’s recommendation assumes a 2 percent limitation on such increases will be authorized by the General Assembly before July 1, 2019,” the release stated.

The committee’s student members said they and many of the students they’ve had conversations with understood why the proposal was necessary, but urged the state to continue support of higher education.

“We’ve got an active group of students on campus who are interested in being mobilized in whatever way the can to make sure the state understands this is a need across public universities across the state of Ohio,” Student Trustee Faith Voinovich said. “Having these limitations really does put a lot of the burden on tuition dollars coming in.”

The committee also advanced resolutions to increase the Student Legal Service fee and charges for elective courses would also increase. In both cases, the fees collected would be passed on to third party vendors.

Students have the option to opt out of these fees. In the case of the elective courses fee, opting out would require the student to purchase textbooks for the class on their own, at a higher price in nearly every case.

Increased rates of students opting out of the Legal Service fee created a need for the increase.

The committee also discussed and advanced capital projects, some of which have already been approved for funding and needed revisions for the project.

An approved budget amendment for the Chilled Water Plant added $725,000 to an already approved $30.85 million, allowing for changed to the design of the plant.

New capital projects included $56 million for construction of an “academic replacement space” for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. The facility will be a three-story building on Union Street, and is expected to be complete in 2021.

Items advanced at the Resources, Facilities, and Affordability Committee meeting will be on the agenda for the full board’s approval when they meet in regular session at 9:45 a.m. in Walter Hall Friday.