Saturday, December 08, 2001

UC budget may call for tuition hike

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In his initial look at next year's operating budget, University of Cincinnati President Joseph A. Steger finds himself $3 million in the hole.

        That figure assumes an 8 percent increase from tuition next fall, no rise in health costs and faculty acceptance of a 3 percent raise in the first year of its new contract.

        UC's predicted deficit worsens if economics or politics hold down a tuition increase, state subsidies fall farther than expected or the faculty negotiates a larger raise.

        A final budget won't be ready before June.

        Budget Director James Plummer said a 1 percent across-the-board cut would compensate for most of the shortfall, but any decision would be premature.

        After administrators sought $1 million to begin restoring their contingency fund and to support biomedical engineering, Dr. Steger was $3 million short in a budget of about $355 million.

        None of this involves designated or construction funds, which are outside the general operating budget.

        UC spokesman Greg Hand said this perennial first budget conversation included a radical change: Deans were told to forget wish lists, with the exception of a new biomedical engineering program.

        Mr. Hand also said tuition numbers were tentative.

        When it looked for new income, UC sought $9.8 million from increased tuition. That requires 8 percent more than tuition produces today but it doesn't mean anyone or everyone would pay that much more.

        Mr. Hand said the 8 percent figure could change under the following scenarios:

        • If recruitment and/or retention improve, the total number of students would increase and the required percentage could fall.

        • If UC adds more part-time students, allowing the percentage to fall. Those students pay for every credit, compared to full-time undergrads, who can get more credits than what they pay for.

        Compared with 1992, UC said the current overall head count on the main campus is 26,890 (down 7 percent). This includes 646 more (3 percent) full-time students but 2,535 (35 percent) fewer part-time students.


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