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Board of Trustees set to discuss tuition increases, programs for international students

OSU President E. Gordon Gee (left) and Board Chair Robert H. Schottenstein at the Board of Trustees meeting the morning of Feb. 1.

Lantern file photo

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Longaberger Alumni House. Topics on the agenda include a financial review of fiscal year 2013 post-semester conversion, approval of 2013-2014 fee increases for non-resident students and graduate students, a proposal of programs funded by the International Student Surcharge and approval for renovations in Ohio Stadium and Smith Lab.

Financial review of fiscal year 2013 and enrollment projection

The Board will review and discuss OSU’s revenue from fiscal year 2013, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Overall, university revenue increased by $107 million in fiscal year 2013 compared to fiscal year 2012. This increase is in part due to the 3.5 percent rise in tuition and an additional month of revenue attributed to the semester switch.

However, although university revenue increased, the Columbus campus experienced lower enrollment due to a 3 percent decrease in admission compared to fiscal year 2012 and the semester conversion. Ohio resident enrollment was down 5 percent compared to fiscal year 2012 while non-resident enrollment was up 3 percent.

Enrollment is expected to decrease slightly into fiscal year 2014 due to the semester conversion. To offset the decline in enrollment, the agenda explains “the original enrollment plan of 9,310 incoming freshmen students for fiscal year 2014 was boosted to 9,500 students resulting in an entering undergraduate enrollment drop by 76 students, or 0.8 percent from fiscal year 2013.”

Tuition and room and board increases

The Board is set to approve the increase of tuition fees for non-resident undergraduate students and resident and non-resident graduate students, according to the agenda.

Although a tuition freeze has been enacted for in-state undergraduate students for the 2013-2014 school year, it is proposed that non-resident fees rise 2 percent to $15,720 a year. Additionally, it is proposed that tuition for resident graduate students increase 1.8 percent to $12,424.80 per year and tuition for non-resident graduate students increase 2 percent to $17,664 per year.

Tuition last rose for the 2012-2013 academic year. Tuition increased by 3.5 percent while mandatory fees froze, so students only experienced a 3.2 percent increase in rates, according to a previous Lantern article.

Many students didn’t agree with OSU’s 2012-2013 tuition increase and questioned where their money was going. Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp agreed the tuition increase was not good, but believed it to be necessary to keep OSU competitive.

“We want to make sure we have every advantage for students,” said Stepp in a May 2012 Lantern article.

All tuition increases meet the tuition cap of 2 percent mandated by Gov. John Kasich in his Feb. 4 two-year budget plan for the State of Ohio.

Room and board fee increases will also be proposed to the Board. A rise to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent is recommended to be added upon current room and board fees to make up for inflation and “increased debt service related to significant remodeling of certain residence halls and dining,” according to the agenda.

The tuition and fee increases will be made effective beginning Autumn Semester, according to the agenda.

Proposed programs funded through International Student Surcharge

The Board is also set to approve proposed programs and services funded through the International Student Surcharge, according to the agenda.

The Board approved a $500 fee last June for international undergraduate students that would be collected each semester. The fee became effective for all new international undergraduate students beginning Autumn Semester 2012.

According to an April Lantern article, many domestic and international students felt the annual $1,000 fee for international students was unfair.

“We international students know from the start that it is going to be expensive to study abroad in the U.S.,” said Liyin Huang, a first-year in business from China,  in the April Lantern article. “So we didn’t bother to check the detailed breakdown of the fee. It is not until I arrived here that I knew we were the first ones that’s been charged (the fee).”

From the first year, the fee collected $941,000, according to the agenda.

The Board will review recommended programming and services for international students that will be funded through the first year’s revenue of the surcharge. These proposed programs will be used to strengthen academic support services and include services such as an intensive English language course for international students, an airport welcome program at Port Columbus International Airport, cross-cultural training for academic advisers, faculty and staff and more scholarships for students to study abroad.

The proposed plans are based “on the results from a two-year study (2010-2012) on international student life carried out by the Offices of International Affairs and Student Life,” according to the agenda.

Renovations for Ohio Stadium and Smith Lab

Several projects will seek approval from the Board, including renovations to Ohio Stadium and additional funds to Smith Lab’s rehabilitation, according to the agenda.

Proposed renovations for the ‘Shoe include the “addition of approximately 2,500 seats to the south end zone and the addition of permanent lighting,” according to the agenda. A new player’s tunnel will also be constructed, running from the home locker room to the football field.

The budget for the project is expected to be $9 million. Construction would begin in January 2014 and be completed by August 2014.

Additional funds for the rehabilitation of Smith Lab will be up for approval. According to the agenda, the project, which was approved by the Board in February, seeks to increase its budget by $1.9 million to upgrade HVAC, which includes “improvements to duct work, terminal boxes and control,” for the entire facility. Originally, the project was approved to upgrade HVAC for only two of Smith Lab’s three buildings. The additional funds will include renovations for the entire facility.

The renovations to Smith Lab began in March and are set to be completed in April 2014. The project “will upgrade HVAC in the entire building and install sprinkler systems throughout the building” and replace building chillers in order to supply chilled water to the lab from the chilled water plant. The project budget is $14.5 million.

Other topics on the agenda include approval of the fiscal year 2014 budget, a focus on the College of Engineering and an update on technology commercialization.

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