Higher education

March 28, 2013
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Higher education funding is set to receive a badly needed, but markedly insufficient, increase in the proposed budget. The increase does little to offset the rising costs of higher education and does nothing to extend state need-based financial aid to community college students or those enrolled at two-year branch campuses.

It is expensive to get a college education in Ohio. In 2012, Ohio’s average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities was 6.2 percent higher than the national average, and the average cost of community college tuition and fees was 21.9 percent higher.[20] In terms of actual cost, students at community colleges were spending $372.00 more on tuition and fees in the academic years of 2011-12 than in 2008-09. Students at two-year branch campuses spent an extra $428.[21]

Tuition and fees are high in Ohio because state support is low. Ohio has lagged the nation in support for higher education for the past 20 years. In 1991, Ohio dedicated $7.03 per $1,000 in personal income to funding higher education, $1.38 less than the national average.[22] In 2010, Ohio dropped further behind the nation, investing only $4.57 out of every $1,000 in personal income, in higher education.[23] Ohio started out behind and has fallen further.    

Although the need for need-based financial aid has grown, Ohio has disinvested in aid in current dollars – not adjusted for inflation – by 38 percent since 2005 (Figure 6). Inflation has further eroded the value of state investment. Comparatively, the recommended increase of 13 percent proposed in the executive budget is a drop in the bucket.

 The budget also fails to extend need-based aid to students at community colleges and two-year public branch campuses. Students enrolling in these institutions typically face additional barriers to degree completion when compared to their cohorts in private institutions and four-year public institutions.[24] Rather than providing additional aid to these students to support attainment of credentials and degrees, Ohio eliminated need-based aid for these students in 2009.

Over the past 40 years, there has been a 65 percent increase in college participation (nationally) by students in the lowest income quartile.[25] However, too many low-income students are unable to attain their degrees. While nearly 80 percent of students from the top quartile of family income complete their degrees, only about 11 percent of students from the lowest quartile of family income are able to complete.[26] Financial stress takes a toll in the difficult and demanding college classroom. Boosting need-based aid for students, and supporting investment in classroom instruction, should be a priority in Ohio’s state budget.

Other sections:
Executive summary
Medicaid expansion
Other health and human services
K-12 education
Local government
Tax policy

[20] College Board, Trends in College Pricing: 2012 at http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/college-pricing-2012-full-report-121203.pdf

[21] Community Research Partners, “Need-Based Financial Aid,” January 2013, available at http://bit.ly/ZZyfXL.

[22] Camou, Michelle, and Wendy Patton, “Deregulation and Higher Education,” Policy Matters Ohio, October 2012.

[23] Ibid.

[24] See, Viany Orozco, Amy Hanauer, Nancy K. Cauthen, Building Ohio’s Future Middle Class,” Demos, April 2010, available at http://bit.ly/wCAy3U.  

[25] Postsecondary Education Opportunity, “Family Income and Educational Attainment, 1970 to 2010,” Newsletter #235, January 2012 at http://bit.ly/R41PXE.

[26] Postsecondary Education Opportunity, “Family Income and Educational Attainment, 1970 to 2010,” Newsletter #235, January 2012 at http://www.postsecondary.org/last12/235_112pg1_16.pdf.


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