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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
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Ohio University considers increasing enrollment to maintain availability of quality education

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 16, 2005) -- Because Ohio University is committed to preventing costs from becoming a barrier to the ability of its current and future students to achieve a quality education, the university will consider the possibility of increasing enrollment for next fall.

"The university has instituted several cost-cutting measures to reduce costs and lessen the burden on students and their families by rising tuition," said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. "We must now look at ways to raise revenue, and increased enrollment is an option to consider. I plan to discuss this possibility with the university's Board of Trustees on Friday."

Increasing enrollment would result in increased tuition revenue and more state subsidy support.

The budget that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft recently introduced Thursday calls for state subsidies for public universities in Ohio to be linked to enrollment over the next biennium.

The combination of other state universities' growing enrollments and Ohio University's modest declines in undergraduate and graduate enrollments and in retention translates into less subsidy for the university for 2005-06. In the last two years, Ohio University's total enrollment (all campuses and continuing education) decreased by 479 students, from a total of 28,992 students in fall 2002 to 28,513 in fall 2004.

Of the $10.7 million in proposed cuts to four-year state universities for 2005-06, Ohio University is experiencing more than $5 million of that total.

The university reduced expenditures by $4.49 million in budget units' operating expenses for fiscal year 2005 (the current fiscal year) by targeted reductions in areas such as printing, meetings and entertainment and by reducing planning units' budgets by an average of 2.17 percent. New revenues to the university's budget over the past year have been directed to specific initiatives, including salaries, benefits, faculty promotions and salary adjustments, scholarships and equity adjustments.

To maintain quality, those reduced expenditures may now need to be balanced by increased revenue.

To date, the university has been planning for a cut in the state by approximately 3 percent. At this point, we anticipate that the cut will be larger than this.

Ohio University is now looking to increase tuition by 6 percent for the 2005-06 academic year. That would translate into each student paying an additional $155 per quarter, with a similar percentage increase possible the following year.

President McDavis is working with legislative leaders and others in hopes of minimizing the proposed reductions in state support.

The university recognizes that these are challenging times for Ohio's economy. The state's public universities would like to be partners with the state in finding short- and long-term economic solutions. Higher education should be a budget priority because it is a demonstrable part of Ohio's economic health and will contribute substantially to the state's recovery.

Adjusting for inflation, state support per student has declined $1,600 per FTE at Ohio's public universities since 2000, while in-state undergraduate tuition has increased only $1,300 per student. With continuing enrollment growth overall, universities have experienced losses in state support of at least 20 percent to 30 percent the last five years, adjusted for CPI inflation.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793

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