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White House rates Ohio State in medium range for affordability

The cost of attending Ohio State is in the medium range compared to similar institutions according to the White House’s new college affordability website.
The average net price for undergraduate in-state students at OSU was $19,082 during the 2010-2011 school year, according to the College Affordability and Transparency Center’s website, which is part of President Barack Obama’s plan to make college more affordable. The cost details the total debt incurred and does not include grants or scholarships.
During the same time frame, the University of Michigan had a net cost of $14,074, the University of Wisconsin-Madison was at $14,940 and the University of Iowa was priced at $14,245.
“Colleges must do their part to keep costs down,” Obama said in his State of the Union address on Feb. 12. “It’s a simple fact: The more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class. But today, skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.”
Obama announced a new program to rate colleges on affordability in his address. The College Affordability and Transparency Center’s College Scorecard aims to help parents and students make educated decisions about college costs.
“The college scorecard looks like a nifty device,” said Eric MacGilvray, an OSU associate professor in political science. “(It’s) one stop for comparing college affordability and performance when (parents and students) look toward schools.”
MacGilvray said college affordability is a serious concern.
“College costs and higher tuition costs have been rising for a long time, and they’re very high. Many people believe that people are going to be priced out of higher ed,” he said.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee announced a proposal last week to freeze undergraduate tuition rates for in-state students for the 2013-2014 academic year. If the proposal is approved, OSU tuition for in-state residents will remain at $10,036.80 next year.
The interactive program on the College Affordability and Transparency Center’s website offers information in five categories: costs, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing and employment after graduation. Students can also search for colleges by location, type of college or area of interest.
These categories fit with many of the same criteria that OSU students sought when looking for a college.
Brad Lewis, a first-year in biomedical engineering, placed an emphasis on academic programs and location when he made a decision between the University of Pittsburgh and OSU.
“I’m from Ohio so in-state (tuition) was a big deal,” Lewis said. “I know I wanted to do biomedical engineering so I looked at their programs and how competitive they were.”
Haley Sylvester, a first-year in accounting, cited several criteria she considered when selecting a college. Sylvester found information online when she was searching for a college.
“I pretty much strictly went to academics and I wanted a big school,” Sylvester said. “I didn’t want to go out of state and I decided OSU was a really well-known school.”
Some students said the college scorecard program does not contain new information and is similar to programs that already exist.
“If you want to argue that (the college scorecard) will increase competition, that would make sense, but there’s not new information,” said Sam Zuidema, second-year in history and political science and chairman of the OSU College Republicans. “I’m not sure how this is going to affect college affordability at all which is a real issue.”
Zuidema said there are other ways higher education issues could be resolved.
“I’m naturally inclined to think about how we solve problems on a state level. If our goal is to help people apply for colleges and decide what college they want to attend, I think the best way to do that would be on a state level by helping students through their high school,” Zuidema said.
According to the White House College Scorecard, OSU has a graduation rate with about 79.9 percent of students graduating.
According to data from fiscal year 2009, the loan default for OSU is 5.6 percent, which is lower than the national average of 13.4 percent.
OSU students typically borrow about $213 a month, which falls in a medium range of borrowing, the site said. Information was not provided yet on employment after graduation.
“I think OSU will do well (on the college scorecard). OSU as a university comes as at an affordable price,” MacGilvray said. “The question is if people will make use of it.”

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