July 12, 2007
By Tom Bosco
Ohio University budget planners are closing in on a final fiscal 2008 budget now that the Board of Trustees and state legislature have had their say. The next step is for all university departments, which have received their budget totals, to refine the details by July 30.
Trustees approved the $350.5 million budget for the Athens campus June 29. The total is 3.5 percent higher than 2006-07 and significantly more favorable than early estimates, which had the Athens campus braced for a budget reallocation ranging from $6 million to $11 million. In the final budget, that figure was reduced to $2 million. The overall university budget, including regional campuses and the College of Osteopathic Medicine, totals $540.1 million.
The budget includes the anticipated freeze on tuition called for in the state budget, which Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law June 30. However, the state will provide Ohio University with $4.3 million in what it calls "tuition replacement" monies, which help offset the loss in tuition dollars.
Additionally, the state is offering a 2 percent increase in State Investment in Instruction funds in the coming fiscal year and a 10 percent increase the following year. In fiscal 2008, the increase amounts to $2.6 million for the Athens campus, bringing total State Investment in Instruction funds for the campus to $88.77 million. Universitywide, those funds for the coming year total $121.88 million.
University units will have a few weeks to make final budget decisions based on their allocations. However, certain portions of the budget have been finalized:
- Tuition for full-time Athens campus undergraduates will remain $8,907 per year for the next two academic years. That includes $1,773 in general fees, which also did not rise for the coming year. For graduate students, tuition will remain at $314 per credit hour or $2,535 for students taking nine to 18 credit hours.
- Students on regional campuses will see a tuition freeze as well. The exception is the Eastern campus, which has lowered its tuition. See related story.
- For full-time students, room and board (based on a standard, double-occupancy room with air conditioning and a 20-meal-per-week plan) is $8,426 per year, up 6 percent from last year. The increase is part of a 10-year capital plan to renovate a portion of the university's housing and dining facilities. The fee increase is not expected to affect Ohio University's competitive position with other universities in the state.
Staff members in Finance and Administration have given planning units "control totals" ? essentially a budget amount the units have to meet to be in line with the budget approved by trustees. Budget reallocation targets vary across the university. Generally, academic units must absorb an average reduction of 0.75 percent and support units a reduction of 1.76 percent compared to their previous year's budget, according to April Henderson, senior budget analyst. Planning units' budgets are due back to Finance and Administration by July 30.
"Some units and departments are still wrestling with how to absorb this budget reduction," said Jim Kemper, associate vice president for finance and administration for human resources.
Kemper said he so far has met with eight academic deans, none of whom anticipates job cuts. But about half of the university's planning units have yet to weigh in.
The deadline for units to inform University Human Resources of job abolishments is July 23. If filled positions do have to be eliminated, the university is required to give classified employees 14 days' notice, bargaining-unit employees 30 days' notice and administrative employees 90 days' notice.
Kemper couldn't speculate on the number of positions that might be abolished or jobs that might be affected. Last month, the university eliminated 32 positions, some of which resulted in layoffs.