Skimpy higher education support holds Ohio back
Posted May 10, 2019 in Press Releases
This weekend, thousands of promising Ohioans will walk across the stage to receive their college degrees. Many of them will face years of student loans payments. Others won’t be on the stage: the cost of tuition, room and board kept them from going to college in the first place.
Ohio aims for 65 percent of residents to attain a post-secondary degree by 2025. Yet dwindling support for higher education puts college out of reach for many Ohioans. In two new releases - a two-page Budget Bite and a seven-page report - Policy Matters Ohio shows how inadequate funding for college and need-based aid keeps Ohio from meeting its goals and thwarts the dreams of thousands of students.
Between 2008 and 2018, spending per college student fell by $1,304 or 18.1 percent, adjusted for inflation, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The 2020-2021 House budget proposal would increase State Share of Instruction (SSI), the main state funding for public colleges, by only 2.1 percent over two years – an actual decline after inflation. Cuts to state support force colleges to shift costs to students. Students paid average tuition of $9,801 at main campuses, $5,951 at branch campuses and $4,497 at community colleges during the 2019 budget year — all higher than the national average. Ohio ranks 45th among 50 states for college affordability.
On average Ohio families earning up to $30,000 a year would need to spend 81% of their income for one year of the net price of a public university (tuition, fees, room and board minus financial aid); and 38% for community college, according to the Institute for Research on Higher Education. State policy also excludes over 110,000 community college and regional campus students from Ohio’s need-based aid, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). More than 60 percent of black undergraduates and more than 51 percent of Latino undergraduates are ineligible. Students at Central State University, a public historically black university, received $860 less in OCOG than students at for-profit private institutions.
“By neglecting support for higher education and need-based aid, Ohio is keeping college out of reach for many residents,” said Policy Matters Researcher Victoria Jackson. “Those who can pursue a degree may be bogged down by debt that keeps them from buying a home, starting a family and contributing to their communities in other ways. Ohio won’t thrive in the future unless our policymakers help everyone who wants to afford post-secondary education.”
Policy Matters’ recommendations include:
Increase SSI funding by 5 percent per fiscal year and index it to inflation.
Increase state support for need-based aid to $250 million a year
Reform the OCOG formula to account for basic costs of living such as housing, books, child care and transportation.
Expand OCOG to community college and regional campus students and increase the grant for Central State students.