Written by By MARIE THOMAS Sentinel Education Editor
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 10:04
As expected, the Board of Trustees at Owens Community College has approved an increase in tuition effective summer semester.
|A student walks on the campus of Owens Community College. 9/2/09 (Photo:J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The additional $4.25 instructional fee will bring the cost to students to $131.75 per credit hour, or $3,689 for the year for full-time students.
The board at its meeting Tuesday also OK'd a $6.2 million campus-wide strategic energy plan - financed entirely through federal stimulus dollars - that is expected to pay for itself in savings in seven years.
College students were made aware, via Owens' Web site, of the impending tuition increase as soon as the board's finance committee approved in January the recommendation.
"We really don't see much choice but to recommend a 3.5-percent increase in tuition," said Trustee Rich Rowe, of Findlay, who also chairs the finance committee.
Enrollment continues to grow at Owens - and students are taking more credit hours - even as state financial support shrinks, according to John Satkowski, vice president of business affairs. The increasing costs of meeting student needs and the shrinking in revenue continues to create a gap that administrators indicated could only be filled by an increase in tuition.
State Share of Instruction (SSI) is estimated at $43.26 million this fiscal year, which ends in June. That amount is $1 million less than what was received last year, and the amount estimated for the 2011 fiscal year is expected to fall again, to $42.94 million, according to Satkowski.
But of particular concern is that $6.4 million of Owens' SSI - or about 16 percent - is from federal sources, specifically federal stimulus money, and that source is expected to dry up in 2012.
"We really need to save, save, save in 2011," Satkowski told the board.
The tuition increase is expected to generate $1,293,686 next fiscal year.
The strategic energy plan, which has been under consideration for two years, is in response to House Bill 251 which requires colleges to reduce by 20 percent energy consumption compared to 2004 usage. Owens has received Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds to assist in financing the project, which is expected to start in March, according to Michael McDonald, associate vice president of operations.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, Columbus, has given the college 2.7-percent interest on the loan. Savings in energy usage will pay back the loan within seven years, according to McDonald.
"This one seems like a no-brainer, really, for us," said Satkowski.
Energy Systems Group, of Newburgh, Ind., is the contractor for the project. Maximizing energy efficiency will include automating all buildings, a retrofit of lighting as well as all equipment deemed inefficient, additional insulation and air infiltration work, and a campus-wide control system for lighting and computer power usage.
Also at the meeting, Diana "Dee" Talmage was elected chairman of the board, replacing John C. Moore who has served that role for two years. Talmage, who has been on the board since 2002, said she will continue to champion students, diversity, facilities and the Owens Foundation.