The University of Akron will be refunding students up to $4.1 million for an improperly increased facilities fee included in UA’s 2015 – 2016 budget.
This marks the second time state officials have caught and shut down UA’s attempts to circumvent Ohio’s prohibition on raising tuition at public universities. The first time was last summer when Scott Scarborough’s $50 upper-level course fee – which would have raised some students’ tuition by 12 percent – had to be rescinded to comply with lawmakers’ rules. For this, we thank them.
Compounded by declining donations, a trend of declining enrollment and ominous admissions numbers for next school year, however, refunding up to $4.1 million will have extensive consequences on UA’s fiscal circumstances.
Perhaps it means more damaging program, academic or workforce cuts; perhaps it means more dubious initiatives from UA leadership that in theory were to improve the University’s finances, but in practice have done everything but. And that makes us nervous – as much as, if not more than, concerns about how many other fees or fee increases we have been made to pay, for which we should not have paid in the first place.