Owens may hike tuition (5-24-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD, Sentinel Education Editor   
Friday, 24 May 2013 09:05
There likely will be a tuition increase for Owens Community College students this fall.
But nothing is definite until the state budget bill is passed.
At a finance committee meeting Thursday, Laurie Sabin, director of finance for the college, presented her proposed fiscal year 2014 budget which included funds from a tuition increase.
An increase of 2 percent or $100, whichever is the cap currently set by the state. That amount is currently included in the House version of the state budget bill. But that increase needs to go through the Senate finance committee, the full Senate and then the combined conference committee before it goes to the governor for signature, explained Jennifer Fehnrich, executive director of Government and Community Relations and Marketing at the college.
So any talk of a tuition increase is very preliminary right now, she said.
What was discussed Thursday was an increase to $149.66 per credit hour from $146.03, or the equivalent of $4,189 for a full-time student with 28 credit hours per year from $4,089 currently.
That increase would generate an estimated $820,000 more for the college in fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1, 2013 and goes through June 30, 2014.
The college is trying to deal with the loss of income from a significant drop in enrollment.
Enrollment has been dropping for three years, according to Brad Meyer, public relations coordinator.
Enrollment for 2011 was 11,157; for 2012, it was 9,535; and for this year, 8,727.
The subsequent drop in tuition income, even with the tuition increase, is $8.5 million, according to numbers supplied by Sabin.
Tuition makes up nearly half of the college's annual income.
Meanwhile, Sabin has not budget any increase in state subsidy funds, leaving that income at $35.43 million and she projected a drop in general fees and student activity fees. She budgeted $37.48 million for tuition, down from $46 million this year.
Total revenue projected for fiscal year 2014 is $86.58 million, down from $96.04 million this year.
However, expenses also are predicted to drop significantly, mostly in the area of staff.
Salaries are expected to decline to $47.20 million from $52.58 million; fringe benefits will also see a decline, to $14.37 million from $16.57 million; and vacant positions that used to be budgeted for will no longer be funded. That number, plus vacant position fringe benefits, drops to zero from $2.18 million.
Materials and supplies will be cut by $612,946 to $2.58 million; travel and professional development also will be trimmed $246,000 to $637,295; and all other expense items except two - information/communications and utilities and insurance - also will be cut.
The end result is putting expenses at $83.59 million next year from $93.01 million this year.
The college's ending fund balance is projected to be $1.55 million.
The college already has made public its intent to cut staff levels.
Approximately 30 administrative staff members' contracts will not renewed as of June 30 of this year, and an additional 30 administrative staff members will likely be reassigned or have their contracts modified.
The college will continue to see savings from the elimination of vacant positions, retirement and attrition.
There are approximately 2,100 employees including full-time and part-time faculty and staff at Owens.
Tuition in fall 2011 was $136 per credit hour. That increased to $138 in spring 2012, and to $146 for summer 2012, which was the last increase.
Among those items targeted for fiscal year 2014 is the suspension of college-funded renovations. Sabin also would like the college to develop a rainy day fun for net profits not used, and a strategic plan fund for planned projects.
The college is not allowed to borrow and does not carry a line of credit, she continued. The college could ask for an advance of state funding from the Ohio Board of Regents, but "it's at their discretion."
"That's a very, very, very last ditch effort," Sabin stated.
As an additional cost-saving measure, Sabin suggested selling or leasing the facility on Tracy Road.
Committee member and Owens Trustee Tom Uhler asked what Sabin had planned if the budget "heads south."
She declined to say, indicating that was proprietary information and should not be shared in public.
The full board of trustees is expected to address the tuition issue at its June 11 meeting, which will be held on the Findlay campus.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 09:37

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