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Published: Monday, 5/12/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

UT budget proposes 2.39% tuition hike for fall

Undergraduate fees will remain the same

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

University of Toledo undergraduate students could face a 2.39 percent tuition increase in the fall.

The proposed tuition hike is part of a draft budget presented to the UT Board of Trustees on Monday. General fees would remain unchanged. If approved at a later date, the annual cost for in-state undergraduate students would increase from $9,054 to $9,242.

“We are still, at the undergraduate level, very competitively priced across the state,” Dave Morlock, executive vice president of finance and administration, said.

Tuition and general fees at Bowling Green State University will be frozen next year.

Unlike in recent years, the first presentation of the budget was absent the “doom and gloom” — as Mr. Morlock put it — over the financial position of the university. University officials at prior budget presentations talked about tough fiscal times and a need to make deep budget cuts, but there was little such talk Monday.

“That was intentional on my part to help calm the university down,” Mr. Morlock said.

Though enrollment declines and reduction in state funding caused much of the budget strain, another significant contributing factor was an attempt to catch up on deferred maintenance of facilities. While buildings do need to be maintained, the monetary cost of deferred maintenance is in some ways arbitrary. Mr. Morlock, who is new to his position and presented his first UT budget, separated deferred maintenance — or deprecation — from the cash flow portion of the budget.

Mr. Morlock presented a relatively stable budget, with total spending for academic and hospital operations projected at about $759 million for fiscal year 2015, up from a budgeted $750 million this fiscal year.

Academic operations are projected to generate about $7 million more in revenue than what was expected in fiscal year 2014’s proposed budget. Mr. Morlock projected a slight rise in state funding, which combined with the undergraduate tuition hike and smaller graduate tuition increases should improve academic revenues.

Perhaps the most surprising projection is that enrollment would remain flat next school year. The university’s enrollment dipped about 3.3 percent from the fall 2012 semester to fall semester 2013. That followed a drop of 5 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2012.

UT officials said that they based that projection on applications received, Web site visits, campus visits, and other indicators.

Though the budget is mostly stable, cuts are necessary, leaders said. The university is eliminating 31 positions to cut costs, though all but one of those positions were vacant, a UT spokesman said. About a dozen of those positions were faculty.

The budget includes a sizable increase in capital expenditures, up from about $7.4 million to nearly $30 million. Deferred maintenance is estimated at about $60 million, meaning it would only be half-funded, Mr. Morlock said, but a significant improvement from prior years.

Projected in the budget is a 2 percent salary hike for employees. The university is negotiating contracts with three of four employee unions, including the faculty union, which has been operating under the terms of an expired contract for close to three years.

Trustees likely won’t vote on the recommended budget for another month. The budget was presented at a finance committee meeting. A meeting of the board’s trusteeship and governance committee that followed included a closed session to “discuss the employment of a public employee.”

In March, President Lloyd Jacobs and the university announced that Dr. Jacobs would step down effective June 30, 2015, a year before his contract ends. He attended the finance meeting but not the closed session.

A representative of the Ohio Attorney General’s office attended the meeting, and a UT police officer guarded the door during the closed session. Representatives from the AG’s office also attended a UT board meeting shortly before the announcement that Dr. Jacobs would step down.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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