UT to freeze tuition, fees for undergrads, some also getting housing price breaks


In a move that ap­pears to be unique for an Ohio in­sti­tute of higher learn­ing, the Univer­sity of Toledo both will freeze un­der­grad­u­ate tu­i­tion and fees next school year and is of­fer­ing free or re­duced-cost hous­ing op­tions for some stu­dents in com­ing se­mes­ters.

The moves are meant to make at­tend­ing UT more af­ford­able and in­crease the uni­ver­sity’s re­ten­tion rate for re­turn­ing stu­dents, uni­ver­sity of­fi­cials said. Scott Scar­bor­ough, pro­vost and ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for ac­a­demic af­fairs, said he didn’t ex­pect the uni­ver­sity to lose money be­cause of the de­ci­sions, but UT will move for­ward with the plans re­gard­less be­cause fam­i­lies are strug­gling to af­ford higher ed­u­ca­tion costs.

“What is the greater con­cern is that higher ed­u­ca­tion is get­ting harder and harder to ac­cess for a lot of fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially in this part of the coun­try,” Mr. Scar­bor­ough said. “Even if it makes it dif­fi­cult on us, I think it’s more im­por­tant to make it eas­ier for fam­i­lies in higher ed­u­ca­tion.”

The tu­i­tion and fees freeze ap­plies for all un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents, while the hous­ing ini­tia­tives are more spe­cific. The uni­ver­sity will of­fer free on-cam­pus hous­ing for any full-time stu­dent who trans­fers in the spring 2013 se­mes­ter. The hous­ing is good for that se­mes­ter only. In the fall, cur­rent full-time fresh­men who live on eeeeeecam­pus and re­turn to uni­ver­sity hous­ing as soph­o­mores for the 2013-14 ac­a­demic year will re­ceive a 25 per­cent dis­count on hous­ing costs if they have a 2.5 GPA or higher and have earned 24 or more cred­its.

Mr. Scar­bor­ough said there was a strong con­sen­sus among UT lead­ers to freeze tu­i­tion, a year af­ter the uni­ver­sity in­creased tu­i­tion and fees this year by 3.03 per­cent. The hous­ing moves are an ef­fort to at­tract and re­tain stu­dents who are mak­ing sig­nifi­cant prog­ress to­ward a de­gree; the uni­ver­sity has strug­gled to re­tain stu­dents af­ter their fresh­man year.

The hous­ing of­fer­ings will only be avail­able on a first-come, first-served ba­sis, Mr. Scar­bor­ough said, though res­i­dence hall beds have be­come more avail­able in re­cent years, which is partly what makes the hous­ing deals pos­si­ble. En­roll­ment at the uni­ver­sity dropped 5 per­cent this fall from the prior year.

The GPA re­quire­ment for re­turn­ing soph­o­mores was likely cho­sen as an in­di­ca­tor a stu­dent has a good chance of com­plet­ing a de­gree. At least 30 per­cent of UT fresh­men do not re­turn for the soph­o­more year.

“Any in­crease in re­ten­tion rate is a win-win for the uni­ver­sity and the stu­dents,” Mr. Scar­bor­ough said. “We are look­ing to im­ple­ment pro­grams that can move [re­ten­tion rates] in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion.”

Kim Nor­ris, a spokes­man for the Ohio Board of Regents, said she wasn’t im­me­di­ately aware of any other pub­lic col­leges or uni­ver­sities in Ohio that have an­nounced tu­i­tion freezes for next year or are of­fer­ing sim­i­lar hous­ing in­cen­tive pro­grams. But she said many schools are look­ing at ways to im­prove re­ten­tion.

“Chan­cel­lor [Jim] Petro has con­tin­u­ously said that Ohio as a whole has to do a bet­ter job ... help­ing stu­dents com­plete their de­grees and stay en­gaged,” she said. “So, any tac­tics that pro­vide val­ues for stu­dents and are stu­dent fo­cused and helps them com­plete their de­grees is a good start.”

Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity hasn't made any de­ci­sions about tu­i­tion or fees for next year, uni­ver­sity spokes­man Dave Kielmeyer said. “How­ever, con­trol­ling costs and en­sur­ing a BGSU ed­u­ca­tion re­mains af­ford­able is a top pri­or­ity for the uni­ver­sity,” he said.

Con­tact Nolan Ro­senk­rans at: nro­senk­rans@the­blade.com or 419-724-6086.