Carol Biliczky

Kent: Kent State students will pay 1.5 percent more in tuition this fall — all of the money going to financial aid.

Trustees on Thursday included the novel increase in their approval of a $638 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year, $20 million more than the current year.

“We are being efficient. We are being effective,” President Lester Lefton said. “This is a very effective use of a tuition increase, however modest it may be. We have to continue to commit to quality.”

KSU is one of the last of Ohio’s tax-supported universities to set tuition for the coming year.

Ohio State, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Toledo chose to freeze undergraduate tuition.

The University of Akron, Youngstown State and Bowling Green increased undergraduate tuition by the state-mandated limit of 2 percent; Ohio University, by 1.6 percent; and Miami University, by 1.5 percent.

Cleveland State and KSU raised tuition, but with twists.

This week CSU trustees enacted a 2 percent increase that will be rebated yearly to students who stay on track to graduation.

CSU President Ronald Berkman told trustees the rebate is part of the university’s efforts to encourage student success and graduation.

That in turn will help CSU enhance the amount of money it gets from the state in the new subsidy formula.

While in the past universities have been rewarded largely for students’ course completions, now they will be rewarded for graduations, the single largest metric in the new formula.

At Kent State, the focus in recent years has been on attracting high-achieving students. The approach seems to be working: The average grade-point average for incoming freshmen is 3.3, the highest in the university’s history, officials said.

High-achieving students are more likely to stay in school and graduate, boosting state aid in the new funding formula.

In fact, the state formula is expected to provide $10.2 million more to Kent State in 2013-2014 than it did in the current year.

“We are doing very well financially,” said Gregg Floyd, senior vice president for finance and administration. “The university is healthy.”

In all, the university will devote $39.8 million, including $4.75 million from the tuition hike, to financial aid this year. That is up from $34.2 million in the current year.

The budget also includes a 2 percent raise pool for employees not covered by bargaining contracts; funds for raises provided under bargaining contracts; and facility repairs and improvements.

The 1.5 percent tuition increase will apply to students at all levels and campuses. Fees are frozen.

At the same time, the university will begin charging an overload fee for students who take more than 16 credit hours a semester. That fee will raise tuition costs for about 10 percent of Kent’s undergraduates, the university said.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3729.