KENT: Kent State University does not plan to increase its undergraduate tuition and will offer faculty members a buyout.

The KSU board of trustees Wednesday approved the buyout plan and kept tuition and fees for undergraduate, in-state students at the current level — $5,006 per semester.

Trustees also changed the name of a college to reflect the expansion of KSU’s aeronautics and engineering programs. The new name is the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. The old name was the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology. Through the college, KSU hopes to offer a degree in mechatronics, a field combining electronics and mechanical engineering.

Not surprisingly, students on the KSU campus Wednesday were pleased to hear that trustees voted to keep tuition flat.

“I’m already in debt so I don’t need it to increase. Nope, don’t need that,” said Katelyn Jones, 24, who is studying digital media production.

Jones, who is from Ashtabula County, figures she has more than $20,000 in college debt. That’s an amount that is less than many of her peers, she acknowledged.

“I pay enough,” said communications studies major Christian Caudill, 20, of Piketon. “By the time I graduate I’ll easily have over $60,000” in debt.

The tuition and fees schedule will stay as adopted unless there are significant changes with the new state budget.

Early this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich submitted a budget proposal that called for tuition and mandatory fees to remain frozen at Ohio’s public two- and four-year universities and colleges.

The Ohio House’s changes to the budget this spring included giving colleges and universities a choice: continue with a tuition freeze or hike tuition and lock it in so that incoming freshmen then see no increases over their four years.

The budget is now in the Ohio Senate, which will make changes. The House and Senate must agree to a bill before July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Concerning the buyout plan, the program is expected to cost the university $6.9 million, but generate $18.6 million in wage and benefit savings. The savings would be used to hire research-focused, tenure-track faculty over an eight-year period.

The goal is to replace those who leave, plus add roughly 30 people.

Those who apply for the buyout and are accepted will leave the university by May 31, 2018, and receive one year’s salary in equal monthly installments over a five-year period. Those eligible for the buyout are full-time, tenured/tenure-track and nontenure track faculty who have 15 years or more of service, along with those who are otherwise eligible to retire.

Trustees earlier approved a buyout plan for nonfaculty staff members.

Also Wednesday, trustees increased a tuition surcharge for out-of-state students by 2 percent, from $4,182 to $4,266 per semester.

Trustees also approved a $2.7 million plan to renovate the second floor of Terrace Hall — now vacant — to provide space for the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.