Kent State’s regional campuses: Small can mean big advantages for students

Alaina Robbins

In Ohio, tuition for four-year institutions are among the highest in the country. With the high cost of gasoline and everincreasing tuition rates, regional campuses are looking like a promising alternative.

At Kent State’s seven regional campuses in Northeast Ohio, the cost of tuition per credit hour for lower-division undergraduates is only $217, compared with $384 at the Kent campus.

“About four or five years ago, Kent State had received targeted funding by the state of Ohio called Access Challenge,” said David Creamer, vice president for administration. “It slowed or eliminated the need for tuition increases at two-year institutions and regional campuses.”

Since then Kent State has been receiving fewer and fewer dollars from the state due to budget cuts.

The university’s costs are on the rise due to a decline in student enrollment, faculty salary increases and student scholarships.

Although Kent State’s tuition has been increasing both at the regional and the Kent campuses for the past few years, regional campuses are still a more cost-effective means of obtaining a college education.

Tuition for full-time lower-division undergraduate students at regional campuses is $2,385 compared to $4,215 for tuition at the Kent campus for the fall semester. Keeping down the costs allows many people to get a college education who otherwise would not be able to afford to go to school.

“This year the increase in tuition (for the regional campuses) is lower than previous years,” Creamer said.

For the 2006-2007 academic year, there is a 4 percent increase for lower-division courses and six percent for upper-division courses. The tuition at the Kent campus has increased by six percent for the fall.

“We try to keep the prices down for freshmen and sophomores because the majority of the regional campus students are going for their associates degrees,” said Denise Seachrist, interim dean for academic and student services. “We don’t want our regional campuses competing with the main campus — we are all KSU.”

Kent State is just one of the four-year universities that offer branch campuses across the state. About 42,000 students attend 23 regional campuses in Ohio.

“There are a lot of state institutions in the area, so we have a lot of competition in Ohio,” Seachrist said.

Creamer said Kent State’s tuition fees are lower than some other four-year institutions, but higher than community colleges and technical schools.

“It’s at the average,” he said.

Another reason tuition is lower at the regional campuses is because the students do not have the same amenities that are at the main campus — such as the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the health center, Seachrist said. The facilities fees are substantially lower at the branch campuses.

“Regional campuses also have a high percentage of non-traditional students,” she said. “They may have family obligations or may be working full time.”

These time-bound or place-bound students may not want to drive all the way to the Kent campus. For rural areas, the regional campuses offer students more convenient locations.

Some students may even prefer the smaller class sizes and more relaxed atmosphere of the regional campuses.

Sophomore nursing major Allison Cottrell attends Kent State’s Trumbull campus, and said she would rather go to a smaller campus to obtain her nursing degree.

“I’m in a class right now with only 10 people,” she said. “I can get more personal attention.”

The combined enrollment for Kent State’s Ashtabula, Geauga, Trumbull, Salem, Stark, East Liverpool and Tuscarawas campuses was more than 12,000 students last academic year. Yet, only 5 to 10 percent of these students use the regional campuses as a stepping-stone to the main campus, Seachrist said.

Junior philosophy major Nicole Shuster enjoys the close proximity to home and the low costs provided by Kent State Trumbull.

“I can get all my LERs and some lower-division courses for my major here, but eventually I’ll have to go to the main campus,” she said.

Shuster said the Trumbull campus suited her needs better and eased her transition from high school to college.

“It’s given me an opportunity to grow and mature,” she said.

Although enrollments had been on the rise, there is now a downward trend for all campuses. Officials have projected a 2 to 3 percent drop for the fall semester.

“Enrollments have flattened off a little bit because less students are coming right out of high school, according to the data,” Seachrist said.

Kent State officials have tried to bring needed classes to the regional campuses to accommodate students’ growing needs. By selectively offering more types of degree programs at the branch campuses, the faculty hopes that the university will appeal to more students.

“At the regional campuses, we are now marketing to adults that have had some college and want to continue their education,” Seachrist said. “Helping people achieve their dreams is what it’s all about, and that’s what happens at our university.”

Contact regional campuses and international affairs reporter Alaina Robbins at [email protected].