Details of the next state biennial budget are beginning to be released, and University of Toledo administrators are watching closely for the impact it will have on higher education.
While it is still too early to know definitive figures, it is likely the legislature’s final version of the budget will reduce funding for higher education while opening up the option of tuition increases at state universities. However, UT finance leaders said the best course of action to balance the UT budget is yet to be determined.
“The state budget appears to allow us to raise tuition and fees by 3.5 percent, if we choose,” said Dr. Scott Scarborough, senior vice president for finance and administration. “And while we anticipate the proposed reduction to higher education will cost us several million dollars, we are working hard to find a way to absorb the cuts with minimal impact on our students and their families.”
Both UT and the state kept a commitment to a 0 percent tuition increase for the last two years, and both entities have voiced a strong desire to hold the line on fees. However, given the current state of the Ohio economy, officials are weighing all available options.
“There is a delicate balance between maintaining access to higher education and having the resources available to deliver the highest quality education to our students,” Scarborough said. “Right now, we need to gather concrete information about what the state budget means to us, and what steps we will need to take to continue to maintain that balance.”
According to Scarborough, the process may yet take a few weeks to complete. The Board of Trustees approved a budget for fiscal year 2010 in June, and depending on what steps are necessary to restore balance to the budget, an amended budget may require board approval.
“The next few weeks will be a critical time of evaluation and strategic decision-making,” Scarborough said. “We want to be thoughtful in our budget deliberations and not rush toward actions that could have a negative impact on students, financially or programmatically.”