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Published: Thursday, 4/24/2003

Tuition will rise, but how much unknown

The question among University of Toledo students isn't whether their tuition is going up next year, but by how much and when.

It could be a while before they have answers.

The finance committee of the UT Board of Trustees discussed two tuition scenarios yesterday, but officials said those numbers could change by the time the state budget is finalized.

The prospect that the university will make a final decision at its June meeting, when most students have gone home for the summer, concerns Elizabeth Williams, a junior from Marysville, Ohio.

“It bothers me just because they won't have the students' reaction,” she said. “It's easier for them to get away with it.”

Faced with reduced state funding and increased costs, UT officials yesterday presented two proposals for increasing tuition and fees for undergraduates. A 6 percent increase would boost the annual price for an in-state, full-time student from $5,848 to $6,200. A 9.9 percent hike would push it to $6,428.

For law students, both proposals would raise the instructional fee by 15 percent, from $9,029 a year to $10,383. The instructional fee for other graduate students would rise from $7,278 to $7,714, or 6 percent.

William Decatur, UT's vice president for finance and administration, said the scenarios were created based on possible levels of fee caps expected to be set by lawmakers. Until the state budget is completed, however, those figures remain fluid.

“The fee cap could be anyplace,” he said. “It's a political decision in Columbus.”

All the recommendations will come before the full board next week for a first reading, but a final decision isn't expected until June.

Trustee William Fall said he'd prefer to make a decision sooner than later because it would give students more time to prepare.

“This burdens families differently from a planning perspective,” he said.

Mr. Decatur said the alternative would be to approve an increase and then roll it back if a lower fee cap is established later. That's the route taken by the University of Akron, which in February approved a 9.9 percent increase in tuition and general fees.

Bowling Green State University has not considered a tuition proposal yet.

The UT finance committee considered proposals for technology, lab, and other fees as well.

Rebecca Mocniak, a student representative to the board, said officials need to consider them very closely. “Students are paying increased fees everywhere,” she said.

Anthony Ferguson, a freshman from Springboro, Ohio, said any tuition increase means more student loans that he'll have to pay back later. He said the university should be more careful in how it spends its money, delaying more renovations, for example.

“It's kind of crazy,” he said. “It seems like they're putting their money toward things that aren't necessary at this time.”

Gene Tegenkamp, a freshman from Continental, Ohio, said raising tuition is better than losing programs.

Other public schools are doing the same thing, he added.

“I understand why they had to do it,” he said.



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