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Ohio Gov. Kasich’s budget emphasizes college graduation

Courtesy of ONA Student News Bureau

Ohio State will have more incentive to ensure its students graduate because of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s new budget plan. The plan proposes connecting college state funding with graduation rates instead of enrollment and caps tuition increases at 2 percent annually, among proposals for other reforms to taxes, Medicaid, the Ohio Turnpike and K-12 schools.
“I think our colleges and universities, when looked at appropriately, are great assets for economic development,” Kasich said in a speech to reporters Wednesday at the Ohio Newspaper Association convention. “Now they’ve come forward with a program, this is pretty amazing, that they will only be reimbursed 50 percent for their enrollees based on graduation rather than enrollment. So we have a lot of young people who go to school and ring up massive amounts of debt, they leave and they have nothing. So now we’ve changed the incentive.”
The convention was held at the Hilton Columbus at Polaris Fashion Place.
The new State Share of Instruction formula, used to figure out how to appropriately distribute funds to Ohio higher education institutions, will give 50 percent of state funds to universities based on the percentage of graduating students and 28.2 percent based on course completion.
As the SSI currently exists, 20 percent of state funds are distributed for degree completion and 58.2 percent for course completion. The proposed changes would go into effect in fiscal year 2014.
Some OSU students agree that funding should be connected with graduation rates.
“Why fund people who are just going to come (to college) for a little while? We need to focus on the people who are going to make it all the way through and graduate,” said Tricia Capone, a first-year in chemistry.
Kasich admitted the plan will be tough on colleges, which will lose funding if they don’t shift their focus to making sure students graduate.
“It’s not easy for them, but they’ve agreed to do it because they think working as a team and forgetting a large degree of self-interest will benefit the state and ultimately will benefit them,” Kasich said.
The 4,200-page proposal was presented to the Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Kasich chose OSU President E. Gordon Gee to help lead Ohio higher education in enacting reforms in response to the new budget plan.
“He was a chairman of the process to encourage graduation and not just enrollment, and he’s been a great ally of mine from the very beginning,” Kasich said. “In leading this, I think he’s done it where people are not put off because he’s got that good personality and he’s been doing great things for Ohio State and for our state.”
Kasich also said the new plan is designed to help students more than the institutions.
“When you go to school, you want to be able to graduate and not be moved from class to class without being able to realize that you’re going to get something when you leave. So if we can have universities and colleges have an incentive to graduate students, that’s what’s going to give you great value. Just going to class and ringing up debt and never graduating, that doesn’t get it done,” Kasich said.
Some students said colleges with lower graduation rates will be put under added pressure to increase their rates quickly.
“I guess it’s on paper a good idea, but I feel like that’s going to put a lot of pressure on the (smaller) schools. OSU obviously probably has a higher rate of graduation than like, (the University of) Cincinnati,” said Daniel Koman, a first-year in chemical engineering.
According to CollegeMeasures.org, OSU’s main campus’ graduation rate is second in the state among public schools at 78.1 percent. UC’s ranks fifth in the state with 55.5 percent.
Miami University (Ohio) is ranked No. 1 with 80.2 percent.
Kayla Rossman, a second-year in accounting, said the new plan could be a “win-lose” situation.
“It might make people want to enroll in college less if (the state is) trying less to make people enroll … than graduate. But I think it’ll be good for the people that, once they get into college, it’ll get them to graduate,” Rossman said.
Some students also said Kasich appointing Gee as one of the leaders of reform makes them think more highly of the plan.
“Whatever he wants to get done, he usually does, and I think he’s a good person to kind of get the ball rolling,” Rossman said. “If Gee thinks that this is the thing that needs to be done, I mean, it’s great that the governor thinks that Ohio State can kind of lead the way.”
Other reforms in the proposed legislation include cutting income tax rates by 20 percent over the next three years, reducing small business income taxes by 50 percent and decreasing the state sales tax to 5 from 5.5 percent.


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