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Gee announces Ohio State tuition freeze for in-state students

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

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While Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 would enable schools to increase their tuition rates by 2 percent each year, Ohio State in-state students might not have to pay more next year.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee announced a university proposal Wednesday during the Ohio House Subcommittee for Higher Education meeting to freeze undergraduate tuition rates for in-state students for the 2013-2014 academic year.
“Given the very real needs of our students at Ohio State, and with the level of everyone’s support, I am recommending to our Board of Trustees that Ohio State freeze in-state tuition for the coming academic year,” Gee said. “I am convinced that this is the right thing to do for our students and for our families in Ohio.”
If the proposal is approved, OSU tuition for in-state residents will remain at $10,036.80 next year.
Gee said “creative funding strategies,” including parking privatization, the sale of a Century Bond and the university’s partnership with Huntington Bank, gave OSU the funds necessary to freeze tuition next year.
“We are now in a position to do more to make college affordable,” Gee said.
Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Schottenstein said in a university press release that the Board supports Gee’s proposal.
“The Board of the University is completely aligned with President Gee on the importance of this issue and will seriously consider this recommendation,” Schottenstein said. “For the past several years, we have been intensely focused on a series of financial strategies designed to strengthen the university’s fiscal condition in order to keep tuition as affordable as possible for the residents of Ohio.”
Cliff Rosenberger, Republican representative for Ohio’s 91st district and chair of the subcommittee, said during the meeting that the proposal to freeze in-state tuition is “commendable.”
“One of the things that has to be looked at is the ability to keep tuition low and the debt, most importantly, to the student low,” Rosenberger said. “(We’ve) got to continue to look at innovative solutions to continue that stride here in Ohio.”
Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp said he thinks OSU students will be “ecstatic” about the tuition freeze proposal.
“I’m glad to see this year it’s going to be frozen,” Stepp said. “It’s a great move for students.”
Chellie Colbert, a third-year in communication, said “it’s about time” the university freezes tuition for in-state students.
“Tuition has been steadily going up since I was a freshman,” Colbert said. “For it to finally have a freeze, that’s a really good thing that our campus really needs. It will help some of these in-state students be able to pay these tuition funds that have just been outlandish.”
Colbert said he joined the National Guard as a freshman to offset the cost of tuition.
Mrinali Sethi, a second-year in Spanish and international studies, said the tuition freeze is good but hopes the freeze continues.
“If I do end up having to take a fifth year, which might happen, it would be really beneficial if (tuition) stayed as low as possible for as long as possible,” Sethi said.
Gee’s announcement came as part of a larger testimony on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Commission proposals within Kasich’s budget for the state of Ohio for fiscal years 2014-2015.
Gee serves as the chair of that commission, which developed changes to the State Share of Instruction formula, which is used to distribute state funding among the state’s public universities and colleges. Jack Hershey, OSU’s associate vice president of Government Affairs, joined Gee to present the details of the HEFC’s recommendations to the subcommittee Wednesday.
Proposed changes to the SSI, which would be implemented in 2014, are expected to apportion 50 percent of state funding to universities based upon the percentage of graduating students and 28.2 percent based upon number of course completions.
Hershey said although the formula is being adjusted, the “building blocks” of the SSI are unchanged.
“What changes are the priorities of where the funding goes, and the incentives behind them,” Hershey said.
Rosenberger said he believes the commission’s proposal is a “blueprint for success.”
“(The proposal) really put the focus back on the students,” Rosenberger said.
Gee said he believes Kasich’s higher education reforms will improve graduation rates across Ohio.
“Our Board of Regents data show us that in Ohio … Half of Ohioans enrolled do not graduated … that’s unacceptable,” Gee said. “Our ‘now’ plan puts the emphasis on graduation.”

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