Board of Trustees agrees on tuition and fees, new budget

Topic: Administrative

July 24, 2009

Tuition at Ball State University will rise 3.26 percent for the 2009-10 academic year, following approval by the university's Board of Trustees during its meeting July 24 on campus. The increase will help to offset, but not completely counteract, increases in the university's expenses for the coming academic year.

The board also approved a general fund budget plan for 2009-10 including a proposal covering salaries and wages that funds promotions for tenured and tenure track faculty and adjusts rates for student employment to match the new federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

For the typical in-state student, tuition for the school year beginning Aug. 24 will be $7,228, an increase of $228 from a year ago. Nonresident students will pay $19,796, up 5.26 percent or $992 from last year.

The board's vote followed a required public hearing on the proposed tuition and fees increase conducted the previous Monday, July 20, in the same multipurpose room of Park Hall, at which Randy Howard, vice president for business affairs, explained the factors contributing to the new rates and students as well as members of the public had an opportunity to respond.

"We know that every dollar is important to students, but just like consumers, we have rising prices in health care for our employees, utility rate hikes and higher costs for other goods and services," said Howard. "We did all we could to keep the increase as low as possible yet still provide the high-quality education we owe our students. Even after our cost-cutting measures, increasing expenses coupled with the resources provided to us by the state left us no alternative."

Also for 2009-10, the board approved a $12 increase (3.51 percent) in the annual technology fee paid by students and authorized the phasing in of a new fee for the Student Recreation and Wellness Facility, initially set at $45 per semester or $90 for the full academic year. There will be no increase in the health fee normally assessed to students. Together, resident student costs will increase 4.4 percent; nonresident costs, which by legislative guidance must seek to recover the "true cost" of instruction, by roughly 5.65 percent.

The increases in tuition should produce approximately $3.1 million in additional revenue. This stands in contrast to escalating prices the university must pay and over which it has little or no control, line items such as health care and utilities. Those two obligations alone are projected to rise by a combined $3.4 million — $2.7 million and $671,000, respectively — this year.

There are "many thousands" of other expenditure items the university must pay for each year, Howard said, adding that a temporary hiring freeze and other personnel restructuring, lowered facility maintenance costs, the discontinuation of a costly and underused health plan as well as 1 percent budget reductions requested of each university vice president from his/her respective area of responsibility are expected to help make up the difference.

For the second year of the biennium, in-state tuition will increase 3.87 percent ($280), with a $14 increase in the technology fee. Nonresidents will see tuition rise 5.88 percent ($1,164). Meanwhile, the fee for the Student Recreation and Wellness Facility — opening fully in 2010 — will rise to $90 per semester or $180 for the full year.

"This has been a challenging year in terms of our tuition and budget planning," said President Jo Ann M. Gora. "We have kept two objectives squarely in our sights: preserving the distinctive education that our students expect and remaining affordable for Hoosier families."

Demand is up, too

Even with this year's increased tuition and fees, Ball State remains the most affordable of the 11 universities in the Mid-American Conference and among the least expensive colleges and universities in Indiana. For that reason, said Howard, "demand is up" among prospective students; good news, to be sure, in terms of increasing the quality and diversity of each incoming class, but also challenging when it comes to the options the university has to respond to the evolving economic climate.

He contrasted the challenges faced by the university with those confronting slowed or idled businesses. "In a factory or in retail, when business slows down so does demand, and therefore production or the level of services provided also decreases. At Ball State, we are seeing increased demand for what we offer. As a result, we need facilities, faculty and technology to provide the education that our students and the state expect us to deliver."

The board also passed Ball State's $296 million general fund budget plan for the current fiscal year. Because of this year's special legislative session, the university has been operating without an approved plan and on special authority of the board since the last fiscal year expired on June 30.

The newly adopted spending guide recognizes that nearly 4 percent of overall state funding approved for Ball State during the just completed budget negotiations is one-time stimulus funding, explained Howard. It also reflects other steps the university has taken to keep costs low without cutting into quality. Supplies and expenses, for example, are flatlined as they have been for eight of the past 10 years.

At the same time, Howard reported an additional $2 million in budget reductions this year. During the last several years, the university has identified more than $7 million through budget cuts and innovative cost-saving initiatives. As in the past, this year's reallocations will help with rising expenses or be put to work further advancing components of the university's strategic plan.

Institutional support to financial aid programs also is getting a boost of 5.25 percent as the university continues to expand its tools for recruiting more high-achieving students.

Glick Center for Glass

The next new building to enhance Ball State's campus will be the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass, after the board members approved the estimated $2 million project and the appointment of Ratio Architects Inc. of Indianapolis as designers of the structure. The studio and instructional facility is central to Ball State's development of a bachelor of fine arts specialty and a master of fine arts degree in visual arts.

Its construction will be financed using a portion of a $5 million gift from the Glick Fund to Ball State Bold: Investing in the Future, the university's current capital campaign. While helping to re-establish Ball State's historical connections to the glass industry, the new center also promises to bring national recognition to the College of Fine Arts for excellence in glass work.

The Glick Fund is a donor-advised fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation. It was established by Gene and Marilyn Glick, owners of one of the nation's largest residential property management companies, to support a variety of causes including organizations and programs benefiting the arts, cultural and civic causes, health care and medical research, as well as numerous other community groups and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life of the central Indiana community. Marianne Glick, daughter of Marilyn and Eugene Glick, is a member of the university's Board of Trustees.

New degrees, major added

In other action, the board also:

  • approved two new graduate degrees, a master of fine arts in visual arts and a master's in applied behavioral analysis, as well as a new major in sport administration within the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science. Each addition meets the appropriate accreditation requirements and is meant to prepare graduates for the next level of teaching or artistic practice, clinical or social service, or professional leadership in the growing sports industry.
  • authorized the start of the first phase of the Central Campus Academic Renovation and Utility Improvement Project. The $33 million effort is the first of two phases that eventually include utility infrastructure improvements and renovations in three aging facilities — the North Quadrangle Building, Teachers College Building and the Applied Technology Building.
  • approved Ball State's participation in the Indiana/Ohio Tuition Reciprocity Agreement through June 2010. Under terms of the agreement, Ohio students residing in Butler, Darke, Mercer, Preble, Shelby and Van Wert counties may attend Ball State at the in-state tuition rate. Similarly, Hoosier students living in one of 22 east and east central Indiana counties may attend select Ohio institutions at the appropriate in-state tuition.
  • passed a resolution reaffirming that the Ball State Museum of Art is "an integral and valued part of Ball State University treasured for the intrinsic value of its collection, the capital it delivers as an intellectual resource to the greater University … and the immeasurable benefit it provides as a unique cultural asset to the community of East Central Indiana." Originally accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1972, the Museum of Art currently is in the process of reapplying for accreditation.
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