Wright State could lock in tuition price after hiking it 6 percent

Next fall’s incoming class at Wright State University could see the price they pay for tuition locked in for four years, but there’s a catch.

The “Wright Guarantee” program would increase tuition by 6 percent for the 2018 freshman class but it would be the only increase those students would pay in their four years at WSU.

It would mean the price of tuition for full-time in-state students at Wright State’s main campus would be bumped from $4,365 to $4,627 per semester, an increase of $262, according to a proposal presented to the school’s board of trustees finance committee on Friday. Room and meal plan prices would also remain fixed for four years.

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Tuition at Wright State’s Lake Campus would increase from $2,921 to $3,097 which also amounts to a 6 percent increase, according to the proposal. Out-of-state students would also see tuition rise by 6 percent according to a plan proposal.

Although the price will be locked in for next fall’s incoming class, the university would still be able to increase tuition at the rate of inflation for the following year’s freshmen class.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the full board of trustees and the Ohio Department of Higher Education before it can be implemented.

The 6 percent tuition hike is the highest allowed by the state for schools with tuition guarantees. It’s estimated that the tuition increase would generate around an additional $1.4 million in revenue in the first year at Wright State, said Walt Branson, WSU vice president for finance and chief business officer.

The revenue boost would be welcome at Wright State, which slashed more than $30.8 million from its fiscal year 2018 budget in an attempt to correct years of overspending. The school is trying to generate a surplus of around $6 million this year to rebuild its drained reserve fund while trying to avoid being put on state fiscal watch.

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“We are basically operating at razor thin levels with no margin for errors going forward,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, WSU trustee and chairman of the board’s finance committee.

Wright State president Cheryl Schrader said the program would serve as an advantage for students by allowing them to “more easily budget and anticipate and set expectations.”

“It actually encourages students to increase their progress for degrees and make it through in four years so I would anticipate some very good results coming out in terms of graduation rates and retention rates,” Schrader said.

The University of Dayton implemented a fixed-price tuition program in 2013 and reported it led to higher four-year graduation and retention rates as well as lower student debt for the class of 2017.

Wright State would become the fourth public university in Ohio to implement a tuition guarantee program, following Ohio University, Miami University and most recently, Ohio State University. Ohio State increased tuition by 5.5 percent when launching its tuition program this fall.

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Despite some of the reported benefits of tuition guarantee programs, they are sometimes criticized as being more of a marketing tool for universities than a solution to high costs.

Both Austin Rains and Jordan Kingsley, who represent Wright State’s student body on the board of trustees, said they supported the tuition program but questioned if the 6 percent tuition increase and subsequent increases would be a hindrance to students seeking an affordable education. Wright State officials have often touted the school’s price tag as being one of the lowest in the state.

“It’s important to consider if providing an affordable education is still our primary goal,” Kingsley said.


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By the numbers

6: Percent tuition could increase under new WSU program.

5.5: Percent tuition was increased at OSU under tuition guarantee.

$4,627: Price for tuition per semester under WSU program.

$1.4 million: Estimated additional revenue generated by WSU tuition hike in first year.

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