While CampusParc has increased prices for the upcoming school year, costs are comparable to other Big Ten schools. Credit: Lantern File Photo

As Ohio State enters the seventh year of its parking contract with CampusParc and remains the only Big Ten school to privatize parking, students, faculty and staff continue to see increases in the price of an annual parking pass — but that has always been part of the deal.

When Ohio State and CampusParc struck a 50-year, $483 million deal in 2012, it included a standard rate for annual permit increases: 5.5 percent per year for the first 10 years of the deal. However, permit prices at Ohio State are comparable to other Big Ten schools. 

According to a Lantern analysis of data from CampusParc’s website, the permits that see the highest price jumps for the 2019-2020 school year are student Buckeye Lot commuter parking with a $61.24 increase, faculty central campus surface parking with garage access with a $57.24 increase, and staff central campus surface parking with limited garage access with a $53.52 increase. 

The price increase leaves these passes with an annual cost of $190.20, $1,099.80 and $1,025.52, respectively, but these prices are not out of the ordinary for Big Ten schools of comparable size to Ohio State despite the changes. 

Rob Messinger, a spokesman for the university, said in an email that the money generated from the parking agreement seeks to support Ohio State’s goals. 

“Ohio State’s financial strategy is always designed to support the university’s core mission, whether through operational excellence, innovative initiatives or projects like the parking concession that generate new resources,” Messinger said in an email. 

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s website, for example, faculty and students can pay either $916 or $1,310 to park on campus for the year, depending on the location of the parking lots. CampusParc’s website sells a student pass with central campus surface parking and overnight garage access for $855.24 for the year. 

University of Michigan faculty can purchase a gold permit, which was designed for physicians and provides access all over campus, for $2,054 or the blue permit near campus buildings for $938, according to its website. Students with junior, senior or graduate status will pay less than $240. 

Michigan State sells faculty parking permits for a maximum of $600 and student permits for a maximum of $320, according to its website.

Although some Ohio State parking is more expensive compared to the aforementioned schools, it also has a wide variety of parking locations, with options under $300 per year for students, faculty and staff. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan and Michigan State all facilitate their own parking, while Ohio State’s parking is privatized through CampusParc.

After the first 10 years of the contract, the annual rate increases will be capped at 4 percent unless the five-year average of the Consumer Price Index — more commonly known as inflation —  is higher, according to the Office of Administration and Planning’s website. 

The money from the 50-year deal will provide $3.1 billion to academic initiatives such as hiring faculty, providing student scholarships and supporting the arts and humanities, according to the Office of Administration and Planning’s website. 

“The goal of the parking lease was to generate new resources for the academic mission — creating new funds to support faculty positions, student scholarships and the Arts District,” Messinger said. “The university invested the entire $483 million payment from the parking lease into Ohio State’s endowment, which means that there are funds generated each year to support these priorities.”

The endowment has provided more than $152 million through June 30, 2018, providing funds for more than 200 full-ride scholarships, 141 faculty positions and the Sullivant Hall project in the Arts District, Messinger said. 

Messinger said that the university doesn’t ask why it would devote resources to academic initiatives. 

“Instead, we ask why we would devote resources to anything that doesn’t advance our academic mission,” he said.