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Ohio could raise its cap to higher tuition

Ohio State is likely to raise undergraduate tuition 3.5 percent. Small number. Big questions.

The dollars and cents of 3.5 percent

Base tuition for full-time undergraduate students is $9,420 for the regular academic year. This figure includes an instructional fee, student union fee, general undergraduate fee, program fee, Central Ohio Transit Authority bus service fee, recreation fee and student activity fee.

The 3.5 percent increase will only be applied to the instructional, general and student activity fee, so the actual increase would be about $314 for the 2011-12 regular school year.

The state budget does not cap the other fees and it is unclear how they will be affected.

The Office of Student Life will recommend any increase to the COTA, recreation and student union fees, but it is still in the process of evaluation, said Brad Meyers, university registrar.

There are also technology and program fees. Certain majors, such as chemistry, music and business, require students to pay extra fees for laboratories and technologies specific to their major.

Each college or program recommends these fees, but Geoffrey Chatas, OSU chief financial officer, said he plans to limit any increase on program and tech fees at $50. This means full-time undergraduates in these programs could pay another $300 per year.

Daniel Cull, a first-year in psychology, a major which charges $103 a quarter in lab and tech fees, said the changes will affect his bottom line.

“It’s not like I have a full scholarship or anything,” Cull said. “So, anything that goes up is money out of my pocket.”

The program recommendations are not binding and they must be approved by university administrators and then by the Board of Trustees at their June meeting.

“They have to provide a rationale for those fees,” Meyers said. “If you’re going to charge an extra $20, what is the student going to receive? That is the main question.”

Graduate and non-resident costs

For graduate and non-resident undergraduate students, things might get more expensive, because the tuition cap is limited to resident, undergraduate students.

Chatas said graduate and doctoral instructional fees will go up 5 percent starting Fall Quarter, raising the price of resident tuition by about $520 for the regular school year.

“This reflects the fact that OSU graduate fees are well below instructional fees at our peer institutions,” Chatas said in an email.

Chatas also pointed out that graduate programs can charge differential fees, which the individual colleges recommend and are market driven. These fees can increase costs substantially.

For example, a resident graduate student earning a master of health administration pays about $13,233 a year in tuition and fees. A resident graduate student earning an executive master of business administration pays $14,490 a quarter in tuition and fees.

Decisions about graduate fees and non-resident surcharges are still being made.

“We are being very mindful of the impact of tuition on students,” Chatas said.

Leslie Daschner, a first-year in biology who said she hopes to go to medical school, worries what impact those fees will have on the university.

“It might deter people from coming,” Daschner said. “I realize that there has to be cuts somewhere in the state budget, but I just feel education should be last.”

The budget and Bruce Johnson

The state budget proposal would cut 15 percent of the State Share of Instruction, the state-provided money used to pay for academic instruction, according to the Ohio Board of Regents’ website. In 2011, OSU received $417 million in SSI funds, but that would be decreased to $353 million in 2012.

The Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee are now debating the budget proposal.

Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council which represents Ohio‘s 13 public universities, has asked the committee to raise the tuition cap to 8 percent.

Johnson said the request is really a compromise.

“Our position is that the state shouldn’t set caps,” Johnson said. “University trustees are in the best position to evaluate tuition costs.”

The council decided on 8 percent after consulting with universities. Johnson said the University of Cincinnati said it would need a 7.5 percent increase to maintain funding at the same level as 2011.

Chatas said OSU would not go up to 8 percent even if the cap is raised.

“He consulted with us, but we did not give him that number,” Chatas said. “We won’t go up that high.”

Ohio Rep. Nancy Garland, member of the Finance and Appropriations Committee and ranking minority member of the Higher Education Subcommittee, said she and the Democratic caucus are opposed to the increase.

“In order to prevent the brain drain and students leaving Ohio, we need to keep the 3.5 percent cap,” she said.

Garland indicated that some members across the aisle are considering the increase, but said she isn’t sure if it will happen.

House Republican Randy Gardner, chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee, was in a house session and unavailable for comment.

Garland said the committee will make its recommendations on Friday and take a full vote on the substitute bill in two weeks.


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