New Eastern license plates will be available in January, giving students and staff a chance to promote the university and get a break on their parking permits.

The custom Eastern plates are available at any Kentucky DMV office for $56 and will exempt the owner from paying the $60 fee for a parking permit. They will then have to be renewed each year by Dec. 31 for $31.

“Regardless of purchase date, it expires on Dec. 31, but lasts until the next when renewed,” said Lora Snider, executive director of Business Services.

When the plate is registered, a portion of that fee comes back to Eastern for the general scholarship fund. The parking fee increase also gives a stream of revenue to some very important university services, Snider said. Both student and employee permit fees are sent to the university’s general fund.

Parking director Mark Jozefowicz said that the new-look plates are aimed at helping bring more attention to the university.

“This was a marketing strategy for Eastern,” Jozefowicz said. “All state universities have their own designated license plates.”

In 2012, student parking permits cost $30. The price increased to $60 beginning in fall 2013. There had been no increase in the price of permits for around 15 years, Jozefowicz said.

Eastern faculty and staff are also no longer exempt from these fees. Last year, employees were charged the $60 for the first time. Snider said it was an opportunity to increase revenue for the university.

“Most universities charge faculty for permits,” Snider said. “It is a good revenue stream.”

Even with the increase, it was determined that it was not an outlandish change compared to other Kentucky universities, Jozefowicz said. At the University of Kentucky, for example, parking permits cost $264 per year, and the University of Louisville, depending on the semester, permit type, and parking location, can charge between $98 and $590 per parking permit. These prices are taken from the online pricing brochures for both universities.

With Eastern’s new policy, some misunderstandings surfaced regarding the new license plates, Jozefowicz said. One of the biggest questions to come up is if cars are required to have both the Eastern plate and an official parking permit.

“A lot of people confused the license plate as their permit,” Jozefowicz said.

Drivers with the Eastern plate are still required to have an official Eastern parking permit in their car, regardless of their parking assignment. Jozefowicz said the plates also do not give owners any special designations or reserved parking spots; it only acts to replace the $60 parking fee.

“We didn’t want to give out the wrong information,” Jozefowicz said. “The license plates don’t give any extended parking privileges.”

Jozefowicz said the faculty permit renewal deadline also had to be extended until the end of October because of implementations to the faculty registration system, including allowing faculty to purchase the Eastern plates.