By CARRIE SPENCER, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State University trustees unanimously approved a two-tier tuition increase Friday that is 15 percent less for new students than what the university proposed a month ago.
The school, which is the state's largest public university, will raise tuition 19 percent for first-year students and 9 percent for returning students, starting in the summer. Tuition will go up $429 to $5,217 for current in-state students and $903 to $5,691 for new in-state students.
Ohio State's announcement on Feb. 1 that it was considering a 35 percent increase for new students was criticized by lawmakers, who threatened to reinstate a fee cap. The Legislature had eliminated the cap last year after refusing to increase the higher education budget. Several universities then raised tuition at midyear to make up for deficits.
On Tuesday, the state's 13 public universities and Gov. Bob Taft reached a "gentlemen's agreement" under which the state schools would keep increases less than 10 percent for returning students.
Universities said on Wednesday they would urge their trustees to stay within the agreement's guidelines.
Ohio State President William Kirwan said the university plans to continue increasing tuition by 9 percent for the next two to three years but does not know yet how much more new students will have to pay.
Kirwan said academics will not suffer because of a tight budget.
"Improvements to undergraduate education are among the very highest priorities of the university. We remain very attentive to this priority," he said.
While the tuition increases will raise $29 million, the university will still have a $6 million deficit, Ohio State officials said. The university plans to trim that deficit to $2.4 million, partly with fees generated from a larger winter enrollment and a non-resident surcharge.
The tuition increases are needed to make up for a $20 million decrease in state funding and to pay for $52 million to $58 million in improvements, including financial aid. Ohio State also is trimming its budget by $36 million and has cut 214 positions.
Ohio State also said it does not plan to cut any more faculty jobs and still plans to spend $30 million to $34 million to attract and retain high-quality faculty.
There are about 31,000 employees at the school, 23,000 of whom are full-time. The university has about 3,000 faculty members and 16,000 administrative and civil-service workers.(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)