Colleges look for ways to raise funds, not taxes, tuition

November 15, 2013

From “Colleges look for ways to raise funds, not taxes, tuition” — College leaders say that today’s economy forces them to think creatively about raising money.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s President Jeff Rafnis is looking for new ways to raise money that do not involve taxes or tuition. The school’s long-range plan, “The Future 2018 Statement of Strategic Directions,” cites a goal to generate $1 million a year.

Other local college administrators say they, too, look for ways to bring dollars that won’t impact students or taxpayers. Rafn said it’s in their best interests.

“The rationality is, as we continue to move forward, the pressure to keep taxes down and not to raise tuition will continue, so we need to look at ways to diversify,” he said. “We need to look for funding wherever we can. The question is, ‘Could we create a revenue stream we haven’t before? Let’s see if we can generate $1 million.’”

That’s about 1 percent of NWTC’s $108 million budget, for 2013-14.

The funding would be separate from money raised through the school’s charitable foundation, Rafn said. It could include things such as marketing curriculum school staff has developed or other intellectual property, he said.

For example, NWTC has created a system to collect information about student progress to help faculty and staff recognize red flags early, and such a system could be sold to other schools, Rafn suggested.

In another example, every Taser device instructor course or re-certification course goes through NWTC — so a police department may have its own trainer, but that trainer is trained through the community college. NWTC could look at selling training products, he said. The school is in the process of securing a patent on such a product staff created in the electromechanical field, which could someday be sold, Rafn said.

School staff also creates curriculum that could be bartered or sold, he said. Administrators need to explore policy and legal implications before moving forward, Rafn said.

“It’s really just a way of starting to look outside of the box,” Rafn said. “The main reason we’re doing all of this is to enhance education. We’re not putting money in anybody’s pocket, it is all to help students.”

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has made similar efforts on a smaller scale, according to Dan McCollum, assistant vice chancellor for academic administration.

Nursing instructors have worked with several nursing groups and associations to create a computer application to replace paper manuals, he said. UW-Green Bay would receive a royalty for its participation.

It also has several programs that are self-supported, including its Environmental Management and Business Institute, which sells services to keep the department going, McCollum said.

St. Norbert College’s revenue enhancement task force meets every other month to discuss ways to raise money, said Amy Sorenson, chief of staff for President Thomas Kunkel.

The four-year private college in De Pere is in the process of trademarking its summer Girls Leadership and Development Camp, and Soreneson said the intention is to offer it to other organizations, especially educational groups.

Most external revenue, which excludes tuition or donations, comes from hosting conferences or special events such as wedding receptions, or renting out facilities, she said.

“I think with the rising cost of tuition, campuses need to look at these possibilities,” Sorenson said. “It’s very much on our radar.”


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