University of Cincinnati hikes tuition and cuts vacation time to keep budget healthy

CINCINNATI – Looking to keep its fiscal house in order, University of Cincinnati is hiking tuition by 2 percent across the board while cutting vacation for non-union employees.

A year after freezing tuition rates, the university raised tuition for undergraduate and graduate students on all of its campuses by the maximum percentage allowed by the state.

Bob Ambach, senior vice president for administration and Finance, said the increase may not cover UC's additional expenses for the 2014-15 school year, but an expected rise in state funding, coupled with income from the endowment and elsewhere should make up the difference.

Here's a look at how it affects student pocketbooks across the system:

  • Full-time, instate students at the main campus will pay $11,000 a year, an additional $215 compared to the current school year.
  • Full-time out-of-state students (excluding Northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana students who qualify for reduced tuition) will increase $516 to $26,332.
  • UC's least expensive option – UC Clermont – will rise $104 to $5,314 for instate students and $246 to $12,548 for out-of-state students.
  • At the top of the spectrum, instate medical school students tuition will rise $582 to $29,678, while out-of-state costs will rise $940 to $47,944.

A full list of current tuition can be found here

The board also agreed to cut the maximum yearly vacation for non-union employees to 20 days from 22. More significantly, the maximum number of vacation days workers can bank year to year will drop to 30 from 66.The reduction to 30 days only applies to new hires. Current employees won't lose their banked vacation. 

Chief Human Resources Officer Erin Ascher told the board that the vacation moves will save UC $12 million over the next 10 to 20 years. The university currently has a $35 million liability in number of vacation days that the workers have compiled.

The news was not all bad for workers. The board agreed to offset the loss of vacation days by making the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve paid leave for all but "essential" employees, who will receive comp time for all days they work during the inter-holiday week.

The board also heard from Dr. Shuk-mei Ho, director Cincinnati Cancer Center – a collaboration among UC, UC Health and Cincinnati Children's Hospital – who called for the university to invest in helping the center earn a Nation Cancer Institute designation, which marks a cancer center as a leader in research and treatment.

Sixty-eight cancer centers across the country – including those affiliated with Ohio State, Case Western, Indiana University and University of Kentucky – have the NCI designation, leaving Cincinnati behind.

"We must have this," board chairman Tom Humes said. "We are the largest city in the country not to have NCI status in the country, I believe."

The investment will be significant, Ho cautioned, pointing to several other recent NCI designates that spent at least $10 million (Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla.) and as much as $70 million (University of California Davis) to upgrade facilities and hire top researchers to earn the designation.

The cancer pandemic continues to increase across the country, with 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses in 2013 and 66,000 within Ohio.

An added benefit would be job creation and retention of the best and brightest medical school graduates from the region, Ho said. 

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