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Published: Tuesday, 7/28/2009

University of Toledo plans to hike tuition 3.5%

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo plans to raise tuition this fall, but student bills won't go up.

A proposal being considered has the university raising tuition the 3.5 percent allowed by the state under the new budget, but then giving students a scholarship for the same amount as the increase.

It's too late in the game to raise tuition for the fall semester, said Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration, and raising tuition this way would allow UT to maximize future tuition increases.

"People have probably already budgeted dollars and to throw a curve ball at this point in the process, it could create financial hardships," he said.

A 3.5 percent increase would raise tuition by $277 a year for a full-time, in-state student at UT.

Because tuition builds on prior year increases, if UT did not raise tuition for the upcoming 2009-10 school year or only did so for the spring semester an additional 3.5 percent levied for the 2010-11 school year would not net as much revenue over the two-year budget.

That's not to say UT is committed to a 3.5 percent increase next school year, but Mr. Scarborough said the university wants to have that flexibility.

"By virtue of going ahead and raising it and giving it back, it raises that bottom line," he said.

Most educational institutions are expecting steeper deficits in the second year of Ohio's biennial budget.

For the 2009-10 school year, UT's budget was cut $8 million in the final version of the state budget and the UT Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio Hospital, will have an additional $1 million cut, Mr. Scarborough said.

Although students would be refunded the 3.5 percent tuition increase in the fall, the university would not refund the tuition increase the spring semester, a move designed to shave about $2 million off the projected $8 million deficit, Mr. Scarborough said.

The university is beginning a budget adjustment process this week that will re-examine the departments that don't produce revenue to look for potential ways to save money.

UT also plans to have informal discussions with its bargaining units about postponing raises that are to take effect this fall that were negotiated before the economic recession, Mr. Scarborough said.

A last resort would be another round of layoffs, he said.

"At this point we can't afford to take anything off the table," Mr. Scarborough said.

The UT Board of Trustees is to meet Aug. 24, and the plan is to have a proposed budget for the board to vote on at that time, he said.

The state reductions also are having an impact on the university's free tuition program, the UT Guarantee.

The program picks up the tab for what federal and state aid doesn't cover for a needy student who has at least a 3.0 grade point average.

Federal Pell Grant dollars have increased, but the Ohio College Opportunity Grants decreased from $2,500 to $1,000 per student in the current state budget.

The grants previously were awarded in different ranges, but now all students will get $1,000. The change will mean UT will pick up the tab for about $100,000 it previously had counted on the college opportunity grants to cover, said Larry Burns, UT's vice president for external affairs.

But UT is committed to its promise that qualifying students will not pay tuition for the 2009-10 school year, he said.

UT is anticipating 342 students to come to campus this fall under the UT Guarantee program, which is a little higher than projected earlier, Mr. Burns said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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