Kent State living costs up next year

Nicole Stempak

WATCH as President Lefton discusses the increased cost of on-campus living.

WATCH as students voice their opinions on the increase.

Living and eating on campus will cost more next year – about $220 more.

The Board of Trustees approved an increase to room and board rates at yesterday’s meeting.

The combined increase in the standard undergraduate room and board rate is 5.87 percent. A typical double room will increase by $135 a semester, and the basic meal plan will increase $85 per semester.

What this means to you:

While the rate for room and board is going up next year, Kent State still has one of the lowest going rates among the universities in Ohio.

The board approved similar increases for other residential housing, including single and quad rooms, on-campus apartments and the other meal plans.

A $26 increase in the monthly rate for one- and two-bedroom apartments in the Allerton Complex will be effective Sept. 1.

Pete Goldsmith, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, said the increase was necessary because of rising costs of food and utilities, the recently approved contract for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 153 and the restructuring of bond debt.

Debt service obligations are estimated to increase $2,275,000 because of restructuring the renewal plan debt. The renewal plan was structured using Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. When Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September, the university had to find another lender.

“All of those things together combined together to compel an increase,” Goldsmith said, explaining dining and residence services do not receive support from the university or state. “… We have to live off our own resources, so the fees we collect are what we have to manage our budgets with.”

Goldsmith said the departments have been trying to cut costs, including holding green competitions in the residence halls and closing and demolishing of Small Group.

The board’s increase in room and board costs is the largest in the past few years. For example, the board approved a 4.2 percent increase for 2008-09, a 4.7 percent increase for 2007-08 and a 3.6 percent increase for 2006-07.

Kent State still has one of the lowest room and board rates in Ohio, with seven other state institutions charging more, according to an Ohio Board of Regents survey included in documents provided at the trustees meeting. Wright State is the only university with a lower room and board rate.

The board also approved a one-time offer to give eligible employees the option of taking a separation package. The University Separation Plan will be offered on a voluntary basis to full-time faculty and staff who have at least 15 years of service at Kent State as of June 30.

The plan will make monthly payments to employees who qualify. Employees can elect the plan over an eight-year period or a five-year period if they are eligible and choose to retire.

Iris Harvey, vice president of university relations, estimated about 1,050 employees are eligible. She said an e-mail will be sent to all university employees, and eligible employees will receive letters in the mail in the next day or two.

Educators Preferred Corporation of Southfield, Mich., will manage the plan and administer the benefits for a fee of $220 per participating employee each year for the first three years of the plan.

Willis Walker, vice president of human resources, wrote in an e-mail to University Council members that the plan does not cut programs, reduce pay or lay off employees.

In other business, the board approved:

&bull renovations of Stewart Hall for Information Services.

&bull renovations to classrooms and residence halls Beall and McDowell.

&bull the establishment of an exercise science major within the College of Education, Health, and Human Services.

&bull a change in the Faculty Senate charter and bylaws that makes the Educational Policies Council a body comprised of two councils: a graduate council and an undergraduate council.

Contact administration reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].