Budget Set on Improving Higher Education Affordability and Access

Columbus, Ohio (2015-02-02) — 

COLUMBUS, OH, February 2, 2015 – Affordability, giving students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school, and working to make Ohio’s campuses safer are a few of the highlights of the higher education portion of Governor John R. Kasich’s budget, which was officially introduced by the Governor Monday afternoon.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor unveiled a portion of the higher education budget last Friday during an event at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. The remainder of the budget was included in today’s announcement.

“Governor Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Taylor have brought a new culture to Ohio’s 37 public colleges and universities under their leadership,” Carey said. “This new budget will build on that with additional new policies for higher education that continue to improve how Ohio helps students prepare for their futures while also helping colleges improve their own operations.”

The higher education portion of the Gov. Kasich’s budget includes the following:

Improving Affordability and Reducing Costs: Gov. Kasich believes that the high cost of college is one of the greatest challenges facing higher education. While a number of Ohio colleges and universities have taken innovative steps to control costs, more work is needed to help universities avoid prohibitively large hikes in tuition and fees.

  • Awarding Credit Based on Competency, Not Just Classroom Time: Ohio colleges and universities are expected to develop a plan to award competency-based credit for a limited number of courses, or Ohio can join Western Governors University, a competency-based higher education university. In addition, the governor’s budget provides $500,000 to develop a competency-based training program with input from job creators so Ohioans seeking in-demand jobs can learn the essential skills.
  • Getting More High School Students Access to College-Level Credit (College Credit Plus): Too few Ohio high schools have enough teachers qualified to teach college-level courses, so the governor’s budget provides $18.5 million to train more teachers in college instruction and reward schools that exceed a high level of participation in the program. With more high schools able to offer college-level credit, students can get a jump start on college at no cost and reduce their overall college education costs.

  • Holding the Line on Tuition: While Ohio’s public colleges and universities have been among the nation’s leaders in limiting tuition increases over the past five years, the governor’s budget seeks to do better by restricting two- and four-year schools to raise tuition by no more than the greater of two percent over what the institution charged in the previous academic year or two percent of the statewide average cost, by sector. Schools will not be allowed to increase tuition in FY2017, the second year of the biennium. To help colleges prepare for the tuition freeze, the state will recommend options for reducing costs.

  • Relieving College Debt: Too many Ohioans are struggling with college debt, with the average recent graduate owing about $29,000. Gov. Kasich is concerned with this problem and his budget would help address it with a $120 million debt relief fund. Details will be finalized together with the higher education community and prioritize low income, in-demand jobs and those who work in Ohio for five years.

  • Examining New Ways for Universities to Reduce Costs: Ohio will create a nine-member Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency to examine ways for its public colleges and universities to hold down costs. Following the work of the Task Force, the board of trustees at each of Ohio’s public colleges and universities will conduct an efficiency review to identify ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

  • Using Campuses during Summer, to Help Low-Income Students: Education is perhaps the only industry that mothballs its facilities for almost three months of the year. To help low-income community college and regional campus students accelerate their coursework, the governor’s budget will give them access to funds from the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) to fill a gap in the federal Pell Grant, which does not fund year-round studies.

  • Helping Colleges Implement Their Best Reform Ideas: A new $20 million innovation program will help colleges and universities implement dramatic ideas to decrease tuition.

  • Allowing Community Colleges to Offer Bachelor’s Degrees: Ohio’s less-costly community colleges will be able to offer bachelor's degrees when local job creators express a need for workers with advanced training and a university is unable to meet the need.

Making Campuses Safer: Ohio will identify best practices for preventing and responding to campus sexual assaults by Sept. 1, and allocate $2 million to implement these new strategies.

Preparing Students for the Workforce Through Work Experiences: Ohio will work with its public colleges and universities and the business community to, by the end of 2015, embed into the curriculum of degree programs work experiences (including co-ops and internships) for in-demand jobs, such as computer science, with OhioMeansJobs.com as the central location for college students to access information on work experiences and career opportunities.

Helping Ohio Adults Without Diplomas Get Back on Track: After the age of 22, adults are no longer eligible for traditional high school diplomas. In 2014, the governor’s Mid Biennium Review launched a pilot program allowing five community colleges and technical centers to create new initiatives to help adults earn credits toward a high school diploma, while pursuing job training coupled with credential efforts. The governor’s budget proposal provides $2.5 million for as many as five additional pilot sites at Ohio community colleges and technical centers.

Enhancing Scholarship Opportunities: Ohio currently invests nearly $130 million annually in higher education scholarship programs, and the governor’s budget provides an additional $8 million to enhance several scholarships, including:

  • Ohio College Opportunity Grant: Expanded to let students at community colleges and regional campuses study 12 months per year.
  • War Orphans: Increased from 77 percent to 100 percent of tuition and general fees for children of deceased or severely disabled Ohio veterans.
  • Ohio National Guard: Increased $1 million to continue covering 100 percent of tuition and general fees.
  • Choose Ohio First: To bolster Ohio’s economic strength in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine, the governor’s budget will add $750,000 to enroll more high-performing students in these in-demand fields. 

About the Ohio Board of Regents

The Ohio Board of Regents is the state agency that coordinates higher education in Ohio. The agency is directed by its Chancellor, who is a member of the Governor of Ohio’s cabinet. The Chancellor, with the advice of the nine-member Board of Regents, provides policy guidance to the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly, advocates for the University System of Ohio and carries out state higher education policy.

Contact Information: 

Ohio Board of Regents Contact:
Jeff Robinson
Office: 614.752.9487
Email: jrobinson@regents.state.oh.us

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