BOWLING GREEN - Students at Bowling Green State University can plan on paying 6 percent more in tuition and fees this fall, which is the maximum increase that's permitted in Ohio's budget.
The university's board of trustees yesterday agreed unanimously to the tuition hike during a meeting at which they also approved the institution's 2006 fiscal year budget. Officials cited an overall $2.2 million decrease in state funding for the next year as one reason for the tuition increase.
University President Sidney Ribeau said the tuition jump - which mirrors the actions at other four-year institutions - is one he regrets. The president said he fears higher education will continue to climb out of reach for many who desire a college degree. Changes are needed, he said, to restore state funding to institutions' budgets in the future.
"It's painful, and students are struggling," Mr. Ribeau said. "We're trying to buffer [with scholarship dollars] as best we can, but at some point it has to impact access - who can go to college and who can't."
At BGSU, in-state undergraduates attending the main campus will pay differing rates according to a two-tier system that was enacted three years ago.
For those enrolled prior to the summer of 2002, the price for tuition and fees will jump to $8,248 annually from $7,784. Students who enrolled during or after the summer of 2002 will be charged $8,560, up from $8,072.
Students attending the Firelands Campus, meanwhile, will see a 3.5 percent increase. Tuition there will grow from $3,976 annually to $4,114.
BGSU was not impacted this year by the state's decision to cap tuition for the next two years at 6 percent or $500, whichever is less. But Christopher Dalton, senior vice president for finance and administration, told the trustees the university next year would be forced to shrink its potential increase to 5.84 percent because a 6 percent hike would bring the university's tuition hike to $513 more that year.
The 2006 budget calls for the university to absorb $3.2 million in cuts. Mr. Dalton said the reductions were made university-wide and include the elimination of some vacant positions and a small number of filled jobs. Exact numbers of positions impacted were not available yesterday.
Trustees also approved 3 percent pay increases for university employees, with an additional 0.25 percent pool for merit increases for faculty and staff. Another $443,000 was set aside to pay for promotions, job reclassifications, and market adjustments involving employees.
In other action, trustees:
●Approved a "code of ethics and conduct" that will apply to everyone on the campus, including students, employees, and even the trustees. It gives the university president the right to issue directives about the code's implementation.
●Accepted the early resignation of Trustee Ed Ferkany, who's retiring and moving to Florida. Mr. Ferkany has a year left in his nine-year appointment to the board.
●Appointed Trustees Sharon Cook and Mike Wilcox as board chairman and vice chairman, respectively.