Thursday, June 14, 2001

UC considers 10% tuition jump

Drop in state funding main factor

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University of Cincinnati students working on bachelor's degrees will pay 10.1 percent more when school starts in September if trustees approve a proposed increase in tuition and fees.

        That would be a total of $1,958 a quarter, or $5,874 a year, the largest leap in more than a decade.

        “It's the worst thing we could do,” spokesman Greg Hand said on Wednesday. “Increasing tuition this much is something we don't want to do.”

        The decision will come June 20 when trustees vote on an interim budget. Only tuition and fees will be final; UC needs them to register students. The rest of the budget won't become final until UC knows its state subsidy and completes negotiations on the three-year faculty contract.

        Undergraduates in UC's two-year schools face smaller increases:

        • University College: 6.5 percent ($1,562/quarter or $4,686/year).

        • Clermont College: 5.6 percent ($1,035/quarter or $3,105/year).

        • Raymond Walters College: 5.3 percent ($1,191/quarter or $3,573/year).

        Law students will feel the harshest blow: 21.3 percent ($10,432/year). Medicine is to rise 9.5 percent ($15,228/year) and other graduate programs, 9.9 percent ($6,885/year).

        That may not be all, Mr. Hand warned, “It's not impossible to have a midyear tuition increase.”

        That was done last in the 1980s.

        UC also is cutting $8 million from administrative and academic departments, Mr. Hand said, but “students largely are eating half of the inflation.”

        The General Assembly is expected to cut appropriations for higher education further if the Ohio Supreme Court rejects the latest funding program and orders the state to spend more on K-12.

        As it stands, UC's $188 million annual subsidy is $1 million below last year, even before adjustments for inflation, “and our share won't go up,” Mr. Hand said. “What the state budget means to us is, who takes the pain, the students or the departments? What we've tried to do is split the pain.”

        Reducing public support for higher education is long-term state policy, Mr. Hand said. UC students pay about 27 percent of the cost of their education, compared to 20 percent 20 years ago.

        All of this complicates contract negotiations with the 1,990 teachers represented by the American Association of University Professors.

        AAUP is expected to ask for about a 5 percent pay increase in the first year when negotiations begin in July.

        Where that money might come from is unclear, Mr. Hand said, because according to the interim budget going before trustees next week, “it's all committed.”

        Until that is resolved, UC's 3,000 nonunion employees will not get a raise.

        Raising tuition won't hurt freshman recruiting if previous increases are a reliable indicator, Mr. Hand said. Also, when the economy slumps, he said, UC draws part-timers seeking additional skills rather than a degree, and the total “head count” rises.

        If increases deter anyone, he said, “It's the student who's right on the edge of being able to afford college.”

        Elsewhere in the Tristate, Miami University trustees are to vote on a tuition/fee increase June 22. Proposals range from 6 percent to 8 percent for undergraduates on the Oxford campus. It was $6,403/year in 2000-2001.

        At Ohio State University, which led the successful fight this year to persuade the General Assembly to lift limits on tuition increases, undergrads will pay $4,764 on the Columbus campus for the coming academic year, a rise of 9.3 percent.

        Northern Kentucky University will charge $2,820 for the coming academic year, up 5.5 percent.


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