BGSU board approves budget pending state bill

The Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees at its June 22 meeting approved educational and operating budgets with the understanding that the state biennial budget has not yet been finalized in Columbus. Ohio’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget is scheduled to be finalized and approved by the state legislature and the governor by June 30. State universities are also required by law to have a balanced budget approved and in place by that date.

“The budget proposal we presented to the board was prepared based on our best judgment and the information available,” said President Mary Ellen Mazey. “We strive to stay true to our promise of keeping a high-quality education accessible and affordable for our students while being fiscally responsible. We await a final determination of what will be permissible in the new state budget.”

The BGSU budget includes tuition and fee changes for the 2017-18 academic year. Following nearly four years with no tuition increases, the rates approved by the board for the Bowling Green campus, if allowed by the General Assembly, include a 2 percent increase for in-state, undergraduate tuition and general fees. This represents an increase of $8.75 per credit hour, or $105 per semester for full-time students taking 12 credits or more. Starting this fall, the total cost for full-time, in-state undergraduates would go from $5,295 per semester to $5,400. The breakdown of the $5,400 total is $4,638 in tuition (a $90 increase) and $762 in general fees (a $15 increase).

Graduate students will see a 2.5 percent increase for in-state tuition for fiscal year 2018, with an additional 2.5 percent increase effective in fiscal year 2019. General fees for graduate students will rise by 2 percent this fall. BGSU expects to enroll about 40 additional graduate students this year. This is the University’s first increase in graduate tuition in more than a decade.

No change was proposed for the out-of-state surcharge for undergraduate or graduate tuition.

At BGSU Firelands, if permitted by the state, tuition and general fees for in-state undergraduates will rise by 2 percent, an increase of $4.10 per credit hour, or $49.20 per semester for full-time students.

Under the new budget plan, tuition and fees for BGSU’s eCampus and distance-learning courses for undergraduates will also rise by 2 percent for each eight-week session, with a 2.5 percent increase for graduate courses.

The trustees also approved an increase to existing special fees to expand its career counseling and academic advising services in order to better prepare students to enter the workforce and to be successful. The University strongly encourages and supports students to pursue an internship or co-op as part of their education, and continually works to increase the number of these opportunities available to them. BGSU offers students a Falcon Internship Guarantee and is a participant in the Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops program.

The career counseling and advising services fees are based on class rank. Bowling Green campus freshmen and sophomores currently pay $1.50 per credit hour; that will increase to $3. Juniors and seniors now pay $2.50 per credit hour, which will rise to $5. Graduate students will be charged $3 per credit hour.

The fees will now also be instituted at BGSU Firelands; freshmen and sophomores will pay $2.50 per credit hour, and juniors and seniors $3.50.

BGSU has not seen an undergraduate tuition increase since the fall of 2013 (fiscal year 2014). After student tuition and fees, the second greatest source of funding for state universities is the State Share of Instruction (SSI). Last year the state increased its SSI support while maintaining a freeze on tuition. However, this year, with state tax and general fund revenues falling short of what was anticipated, it is not expected that any increase in SSI will be possible, said Sheri Stoll, BGSU chief financial officer.

“BGSU has been fortunate that student enrollment has been growing in recent years, but that also requires the resources to keep up with instruction and student services,” Stoll said. “The tuition and fee increases are needed to ensure that we can continue to support our high-quality academic programs and critical student services. Budget priorities this year will mostly be focused on salaries, benefits, student needs such as educational technology, and to help us invest in high-demand programs such as forensic sciences and software engineering.”

Because state universities must have their budgets in place by June 30, BGSU was challenged to present a budget without knowing the final outcome of the state’s budget deliberations, Stoll said.

BGSU’s all-funds educational and general budgeted expenditures are $416.2 million for fiscal year 2018.

In salary action, the trustees approved a salary pool for classified and administrative staff reflecting a 2 percent raise. In accordance with the faculty collective bargaining agreement, the trustees approved a 4.1 percent pool comprising a 1 percent across-the-board raise, another 1 percent each for merit and market adjustments, 0.6 percent for promotion and tenure raises, and 0.5 percent for provost-targeted market adjustments.