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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2003

Panel seeks $5.75 hour fee increase for Owens

The Owens Community College board of trustees next week will consider a proposal to increase its tuition and fees this summer by $5.75 a credit hour, or 6 percent.

The recommendation, approved yesterday by the board's finance committee, would boost the total cost per credit hour from $95 to $100.75. That would raise the annual cost for a full-time student from $2,280 to $2,418.

The increase would consist of $4 for tuition and $1.75 for a new technology fee to support the upkeep of computers, software, and related items. The matters will be considered by the full board April 1.

“I think it's painful but necessary,” said Jack Sculfort, board chairman.

Reduced state funding in recent years - and the prospect that it will get no better - necessitated the proposal, he said. This fiscal year alone the state support to Owens declined by more than $4 million.

“Even with enrollment growth we can't make up the shortfall,” Mr. Sculfort said.

A budget being developed for next year would be very tight without an increase and it would include no new initiatives, said Chuck Mann, vice president of business affairs.

“It's hard to do what you want if you don't have any money,” he said.

Officials kept the size of the proposed increase to 6 percent because of the possibility that legislators will impose a cap at that level on tuition and fee increases for next year.

If approved, the increase would generate $1.29 million next year to help the college deal with rising utility costs and contractual salary increases, Mr. Mann said. Of that, $393,750 would be directed to technology improvements through the technology fee.

Several other Ohio community colleges have technology fees, and creating one to raise funds for that area at Owens is essential, President Christa Adams said.

“We all use technologies,” she said. “This spreads the cost of those across the board.”

Jolene Poeschl, Owens student government president, said she doesn't believe students will be upset by the proposal, especially since the college would remain considerably less expensive than the University of Toledo ($5,836 a year) or Bowling Green State University ($6,742 annually for freshmen).

“I don't think that this is a huge hike in the price of tuition,” she said.

She added that it's smaller than the 11.7 percent increase in Owens' price, or $10 per credit hour, that went into effect this spring. That move didn't seem to elicit many student complaints or dampen enrollment growth, she said.

The college has about 18,500 students enrolled at its Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses.

UT and BGSU have not made decisions yet about tuition for next year.

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