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MU to raise tuition 5 percent

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By Jim Ross

For at least the third year in a row, students returning to Marshall University this fall will see a tuition increase.

An increase of 5 percent was approved by the school’s Board of Governors April 24. So far, there has been little or no pushback, said Matt Turner, MU chief of staff. Turner said the tuition increase was in response to another reduction in state funding for the university.

“There’s not a more attractive option right now,” he said April 29.

The tuition increase was part of the university’s 2014-15 operating budget. Tuition will go up about 4 to 6 percent for undergraduate students, which is $155 per semester for full-time, in-state students, $290 per semester for out-of-state students and $325 per semester for students in certain nearby counties in Kentucky and Ohio. Tuition for graduate students will increase from 4 to 6 percent, with a few exceptions in the professional schools.

The tuition will be $2,510 for in-state undergraduate students per semester; up from $2,076 per semester in 2011-12.

Mary Ellen Heuton, the university’s chief financial officer, said the increase was needed to overcome a reduction of almost $900 per West Virginia student in state appropriations in the last two years. The tuition increase will make up for about $1.5 million less in state aid next fiscal year, she said.

In a release issued after the board approved the tuition increase and the budget, Marshall President Stephen Kopp said the university was able to avoid furloughs and layoffs.

“This budget will allow us to continue to provide outstanding education and student support services while keeping Marshall on sound financial footing,” he said.

The only board member to vote against the increase was Phil Cline. Board member Oshel Craigo said the school needs to do more analysis to be sure resources are distributed among academic departments based on need rather than on past appropriations. Heuton said such an evaluation is underway for the 2015-16 school year and beyond.

The evaluation is part of Marshall’s 20/20 strategic planning process. Two work groups are addressing Marshall’s academic portfolio, meaning those programs that result in degrees being awarded, and its service portfolio, which includes non-faculty activity in support of students, faculty, staff, teaching, research and athletics.

Also at the board meeting, Mike Sellards, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Medical Center, was elected chairman for the upcoming fiscal year, replacing Dr. Joseph Touma. The board also approved proposals to plan three new degree programs: a bachelor of arts in the arts; a bachelor of arts in sport management; and a master of science in computer science.