University underfunded

Tuition will increase, positions will be eliminated and departments will be asked to make significant cuts as a result of an expected 1.4 percent cut to Northern Kentucky University’s state allocation and a denial of funding for special projects. Added to the University’s financial burden is the requirement that they contribute $1.8 million to the state retirement program.

Kenneth Kline, the University’s budget director, says that undergraduate students should expect a single-digit tuition increase similar to the one experienced last year. Chase College of Law students can expect a roughly two percent tuition increase.

‘The University is budgeted very conservatively,’ Kline said. ‘We are in a relatively strong position to weather the current proposed state budget.’

The University will dive into its emergency reserve to compensate for the insufficient funding from the state legislature, which will cut operating funds and provide no support for Griffin Hall, which is currently under construction, or maintenance of the new Student Union. No additional funding will be provided for The Bank of Kentucky Center either, despite local tourism leaders partly attributing a recent boost to the local economy on its offerings. NKU asked for a $4.6 million budget allocation for these projects.

This leaves university-wide cuts and student tuition to help pay for the new buildings, and there is some indication that educational programs and staffing could be cut to pay for the projects and employee benefit obligations.

‘Any investments will have internal reallocation ‘- moving from one priority to a higher priority,’ Kline said.

A hiring freeze has been put into place and the University is planning staff reductions starting with not filling several of the currently vacant positions.

‘We will reduce the size of our administration in terms of positions, while protecting people’s jobs to the best extent,’ Klein explained.’

Budgeting to build more academic space is supported by the Student Government Association.

‘In regard to construction, I think that students can look forward to more academic space on campus. At this time, we are at a cap and need a substantial amount of academic space,’ said Dustin Robinson, chair of the SGA Finance Committee. ‘I think that NKU is growing at a very responsible rate. But this area presents a need for attendance at NKU more than it can currently provide, thus I think that NKU will continue to grow. I’m excited to see where our University is in 10, 20 and even 40 years.’

What is less clear is whether reallocated funds should be used to pay for the maintenance of The Bank of Kentucky Center is seen as worthwhile by students or whether students feel like their tuition money is being used to benefit them now.

‘I don’t believe that students are devoting too many of their resources for the benefit of future students,’ Robinson said. ‘I think that the investments that NKU has made in its development has been and will continue to be beneficial to past, current and future students.’

Tuition increases will be brought before the SGA on Monday, April 19, and students can attend the meeting to voice their concerns on the proposal. The budget proposal, including tuition increases and program cuts, will go before the University’s Board of Regents May 5. Anyone, including students, may make comments at the Board of Regents meeting if they ask for the opportunity several days in advance by contacting Kim Luse in the Office of the President so they can be placed on the agenda.

‘For the quality of education that students receive, I do believe that NKU is affordable…But that doesn’t mean that everyone can afford it.’ In the current economic state that we are in, it is often difficult for students to be able to pay for classes… My recommendation for students making college more affordable is to communicate with the Office of Financial Assistance, check the N3, and try to get involved in organizations,’ Robinson said.

In addition, Robinson encouraged more students to apply for the two Anne Braden scholarship awards that SGA currently offers.’ The Anne Braden scholarship is in the amount of $1,000 and is awarded to students who exemplify a passion for multiculturalism and a dedication to social equality. Applications are due to the Dean of Students office by April 9th.

Story by Jesse Call