A new student organization at Ohio State is petitioning to pass a freeze on tuition and fees for five years for both in-state and out-of-state students — something that the OSU Board of Trustees has already turned down.
Carter Zimmermann, a third-year in political science, is the founder and treasurer of the Five-Year Freeze Initiative.
“It started off because we saw a problem. Everyone can agree rising tuition rates, not just Ohio State University, but all over is a problem. We just started off doing research and finding the numbers,” he said. “Once we found a problem we knew we had to do something.”
A four-page proposal was previously submitted to the OSU Board of Trustees advocating the five-year freeze, but it was denied, Zimmermann said.
Bradley Morton, a third-year in international studies and president of the group, said as a first-generation college student, he had no idea how expensive college was. His frustration over fee increases caused him to join the initiative.
“The facts speak for themselves,” he said. “The past 30 years’ tuition at four-year public universities has gone up 370 percent with Ohio State at 390 percent, while inflation has increased by 130 percent.”
Decisions made by the Board of Trustees kept the OSU in-state undergraduate tuition and fees frozen for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years at $10,037 for the Columbus campus. The mandatory fees, which include the recreational, Ohio Union, student activity fee and COTA fees remained the same. Out-of-state undergraduate students saw a 5 percent surcharge increase for the 2014-15 year. There was also a fee increase of 4.1 to 4.3 percent for room and board.
The 5 percent surcharge brought the fee for non-resident undergraduate tuition to $26,537. The most popular room and board plan costs $11,666, but those fees vary, depending on which room type and meal plan the student selects.
OSU has held tuition flat for in-state students four times in the last seven years, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said.
“Recognizing that tuition is just one piece of the affordability puzzle, Ohio State has awarded more than $350 million in direct student aid over the past three years, including $26 million in scholarships that has been redirected from individual college budgets,” he said in an email.
The Five-Year Freeze Initiative is in the early stages of planning, and while it has a website and Twitter and Facebook accounts its founders still working on getting attention.
“The point was to get the information out there. We want to say this is what’s going on and this is a potential solution. We don’t think we’re asking for anything too crazy,” Zimmermann said.
The plan calls for a tuition and fees freeze for five years, something some of the members said they plan to still advocate for after they graduate.
“After that five-year freeze, we hope to have a more efficient plan for how much tuition should raise,” he said.
The group had its first meeting Monday to introduce the concept to other students and share what the group is all about.
The founders plan to continue having outreaches each month to bring attention to the idea. The website also asks for donations to help pay for event food and volunteers, which would benefit these events, Morton said.
“As the year goes on, we want to continue to have a following and make noise, and when (the Board) meets in June, maybe we put a proposal in there and have them take a serious look at it,” he said.
At least one student said she would like to see the initiative passed.
Kathryn Gordon, a third-year in biology, said her mother is a single parent so they don’t have a lot of money to spare.
“It would be great if it didn’t go up, since I will be graduated by that time,” she said. Gordon also said she thinks it would be feasible since OSU will be receiving new income when second-year students will have to live on campus come 2016.
And the group aims to provide a voice or people like Gordon, Zimmermann said.
“We felt that it was our duty to say something. That’s what the Five-Year Freeze is,” he said.