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Higher education officials submit $18 million funding list

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State higher education officials have submitted $18 million worth of capital improvements at the state's four-year colleges and community colleges, and they want the state Legislature to pay more than half of the cost.

Richard Donovan, senior director of facilities for the state Higher Education Policy Commission, said the list was cut down from a total of about $1 billion in funding requests from colleges.

The list includes 33 projects at four-year institutions, and 10 projects at community and technical colleges.

The projects would require $10 million of appropriations from the Legislature, with the remainder to be funded by the institutions.

Donovan told members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability that the requests are for renovation projects, either for deferred maintenance or to comply with building codes.

West Virginia University has the most projects on the list, totaling $3.83 million. However, three of those projects are at the WVU Institute of Technology campus in Montgomery.

That includes $1.25 million to upgrade the campus' main electrical feed, $200,000 to replace an elevator in the engineering lab, and $105,000 for engineering classroom upgrades.

Marshall had the second-largest amount of requests on the priority list, at $3.05 million, including $1.04 million for emergency generators.

Also Monday, Dr. Robert Walker, state vice chancellor for health sciences, said the 2012 Higher Education Report Card for Health Sciences shows a troubling increase in student loan debt from medical and osteopathic school graduates.

Loan debt for 2012 graduates ranged from $156,425 at WVU, $162,010 at Marshall, to $240,283 at the School of Osteopathic Medicine.

In 2008, average loan debt was $125,438 at WVU, $147,902 at Marshall, and $176,297 at the osteopathic school.

"We're worried that it takes away choices for students who want to work in rural or disadvantaged areas," Walker said of the student loan debt.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.


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