A freeze on tuition and general and special fees at Ohio colleges will continue if the state legislature adopts a budget plan proposed by Gov. John Kasich on Monday.
Kasich’s proposal would freeze tuition in 2018 and 2019 at public universities such as Wright State, Miami and Clark State, while also incrementally increasing funding for higher education over the next two years. The budget would increase funding by 1 percent to $2.66 billion in fiscal year 2018 and then by another 1.8 percent to $2.71 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to the proposal.
While universities are thankful for the funding increase, Bruce Johnson, president of the inter-university council of Ohio said it is not enough to offset a lack of funding form other sources.
“Of course we always want students to pay as little as possible,” Johnson said. “But this isn’t keeping up with the growth.”
Ohio’s per-student spending dropped from $5,627 in 2008 to $5,078 in 2015, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The national average in 2015 was $6,996.
To cut down on costs to students, the governor wants to require colleges to provide textbooks to students beginning in the fall of 2018. Colleges would be able to charge a fee of no more than $300 to offset the cost of those course materials.
The University of Dayton already helps students pay for books by offering a book scholarship of up to $4,000 to students who visit campus and fill out at FAFSA application, said spokeswoman Meagan Pant.
The budget proposal will also try to encourage people who never completed their degree to finish it with the help of a scholarship.
The “Finish Your Future” scholarship program will be funded with $2 million in FY 2018 and $4 million in FY 2019 and would dole out scholarships to students who were within one year of completing their degree, according to the proposal.
One higher education item that made a return appearance in this year’s biennium was Kasich’s push for bachelor’s degrees to be offered at community colleges. The budget calls for specialized four-year degrees that don’t overlap with offerings at nearby universities to be offered at community colleges.
The community college proposal has been brought up a few times but died in the legislature last year. Officials at Sinclair Community College and Clark State Community College have been supporters of the concept.
“We appreciate Governor Kasich’s support for allowing community colleges the ability to offer job focused bachelor’s degrees that Ohio’s students cannot currently obtain,” Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka said in an email after Tuesday’s budget announcements.
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