Higher-education institutions that are seeking funding for facility improvements have one option not available to public school districts: Have students pay the bill directly.

That’s how Kent State University has proposed to cover most of the costs of more than $275 million in building improvements on the Kent, Ohio, campus. The institution has asked the Ohio Board of Regents to approve a plan to impose a $24-per-credit-hour fee for in-state students ($28 an hour for out-of-state students) to pay off $210 million in bonds that are to be issued for the construction projects.

The fees would not begin until the 2012-13 school year, when the fee would be $7 per credit hour. It would increase over five years until the full $24 per credit hour is collected.

The university says the improvement projects that the fees would support include "the majority of the education and general buildings on the institution’s main campus."

The projects have been placed in three categories:

-Space reassignment, repurpose, and additions and renovations. These projects would allocate campus space so that the university operates more efficiently. It is estimated to cost $191 million and would affect nearly every building on campus.

-General improvements and minor renovations. These projects would carry out renovations of classrooms, seminar rooms, hallways, and corridors in many of the university’s main buildings. They are estimated to cost $71 million.

-Construction and health/safety codes and standards. These projects will include an evaluation of how to improve health and safety standards and code compliance. The estimate for these projects is $10.7 million.