University explores ways to cut costs

Rachel Abbey

Kent State spends almost $10,000 on each student, said David Creamer, vice president for administration. This includes costs such as faculty and administrative salaries, library funding and building repairs.

But the state only gives the university about $4,000 per student, he said.

Higher education costs colleges about the same in Ohio as it does across the nation, but low state support – 40th in the nation – causes these colleges to compensate with higher tuition, according to the Performance Report for Ohio’s Colleges and Universities, a 2005 report by the Board of Regents. Average tuition costs are 44 percent higher in Ohio than across the country.

Student tuition pays for about 65 percent of Kent State’s expenses, Creamer said, but universities take measures to become more efficient.

“Every dollar that does exist is being used as best as it can be,” President Carol Cartwright said.

Kent State tends to spend less on student expenses than most comparable area universities, Creamer said. The Regents’ report listed the Kent campus’ 2004 average expense as $9,819 per student, the third cheapest among Ohio’s university main campuses.

The Regents’ 2005 Results Through Productivity report looked at the ways universities across Ohio cut costs. More than $190 million was saved through administrative cuts from 2001 to 2004 and more than $91 million through academic cuts from 2003 to 2005. Collaborations and projects encouraging productivity and effectiveness were also examined.

“We’re just always looking for the next idea because we want to be able to invest as much as we can into the core mission of the institution,” which is academics, Cartwright said.

Kent State’s cost per student has stayed about the same in recent years, Creamer said. Savings in the form of staff lay-offs, lowered energy costs and improved technology have kept the costs relatively low.

“Some is a result of efficiency and some is a result of our mix of programs,” Creamer said.

Kent State has a high number of graduate programs, Creamer said. Graduate students receive more state funding than undergraduates.

The 35 percent of Kent State’s funding that comes from the state does not include grants, Creamer said, because those are usually for specific purposes, and the amount the university receives each year can vary.

The Kent campus relies more heavily on tuition than the regional campuses, Creamer said, because the state gives more money to two-year colleges.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].