The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the creation of a new career fee and an increase in tuition and fees during its meeting Friday.

The board approved a tuition increase of 1.3 percent, or about $155 per year, for undergraduate in-state students — a number permitted by the Ohio Revised Code. Members also approved a 3.5 percent increase in residential housing rates on the Athens campus as part of an annual plan, as well as a 2 percent increase in rates of campus culinary services.

The committee also approved the implementation of a “career services” fee that will assess $6 per credit hour to benefit career and leadership development opportunities and programming. Beginning with the fall 2018 class, the fee will apply to all undergraduate students, including those at regional campuses, and will cap at 12 credit hours, or about $72 per semester for full-time students, per semester. 

“We do hope that students will take advantage of the experiential learning offered to them through internships and networking,” Board Chair Janetta King said. “Some of this happens already on campus in pockets, and we want to make that available to everyone.”

With the approval of the board, the fee will move for approval from the Ohio chancellor of higher education. 

Students enrolled under the current OHIO Guarantee will not be affected by any of the new increases. 

In addition to fee approvals, the board also passed a resolution that would allow faculty and staff at regional campuses to opt to receive early retirement incentives. King said an estimated 106 employees are eligible to receive the incentive packages. 

Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer said the decision to offer the packages was linked to ongoing budget discussions and continuing efforts to reduce costs on those campuses.

The trustees also approved about $56 million in capital projects, the most expensive of which will be the $31 million renovation of the West Union Street Office Center and the $15.9 million renovation and demolition of various buildings at The Ridges. Several residence halls will also receive restroom, water and roof upgrades. 

In addition to approving projects and fee increases, the board also heard from Elizabeth Sayrs, interim executive vice president and provost, who presented on ways to increase student retention and persistence, with a particular focus on students who are first-generation, African-American or on Pell Grants. 

The university uses three different programs to "nudge" students, or provide encouragement or motivation, via email and text alerts about their academic performances and with questions to help understand why students would be unlikely to continue their degrees.

About 15,000 students were given feedback during Fall Semester through MyOHIO Success Network, which helps provide notifications on academic performance and identify at-risk students.

Another initiative, Nudge to the Finish Line, works to increase degree completion by motivating students who are about halfway through their college careers. Normalizing College Challenges helps provide support to students who may feel as if they do not belong at college or address other challenges in their lives on campus.

The board's next meetings will take place March 22-23. 

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