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February 22, 2024

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Graduate College plans to attract new students through sustainable programs

To attract more graduate students, the Graduate College is planning on creating sustainable programming in the middle of the University’s budget deficit.

Sheri Stoll, chief financial officer, said the University expects to have lost a total of $30 million in state support from 2010 to 2015, with a decrease from $90 million in 2010 to $60 million expected in 2015.

“These reductions have occurred because of an overall reduction in state support to public higher education and as a result of the decline in enrollment, retention and degree completion at BGSU over that same period of time,” she said.

Michael Ogawa, dean of the Graduate College said at the Oct. 4 Graduate Student Senate meeting that under the University’s old business model, it made financial sense to waive tuition for graduate students because increased enrollment meant a larger share in the State Share of Instruction.

“The business model was: let’s sacrifice a small piece of the pie to get the bigger piece of the pie,” Ogawa said.

But Ogawa said last year’s changes to the SSI model mean universities around the state don’t get as much of the pie. The distribution of funds is now based on the number of degrees awarded and the number of classes passed by students instead of on enrollment totals, Ogawa said. The University recently had its lowest number of degrees awarded, he said.

The new system is also fixed, which means if one university receives an increase in funding, another loses, he said.

Ogawa said the University’s decline in enrollment during the past several years also contributed to the problem because the budget plans were based on greater enrollment numbers.

“We planned for a freshman class of 3,600 and we got a freshman class of 3,300 or 3,400,” Ogawa said. “That’s a significant shortfall of about 200 students and that’s about $2.5 million.”

The Graduate College is working on creating a “sustainable portfolio of programs” to help make up for the deficit, he said.

This includes strategic budget cuts to programs that are supported by other sources of revenue and the creation of more professional degree programs that will “attract students who see the value in the education and will be willing to pay the tuition to get the value,” he said.

Lingxiao Ge, president of the Graduate Student Senate, said the Graduate College needs more sources of revenue to be more sustainable.

“We are getting less funding from the state and we have to rely on some other revenue,” she said. “It’s really hard for us to maintain the current model.”

Ogawa said he cannot make any promises, but he does not want graduate students whose tuition is currently waived to have to pay it if this goes into effect, while new students might have to.

“I want to keep that commitment because I want to be able to sleep at night,” he said.

Ge said she’s grateful for Ogawa’s efforts.

“I appreciate that he set up the priority that makes sure that current graduate students won’t be harmed due to the change in the future.”

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