By Graig Graziosi
The yearly increase in tuition at state-funded colleges may be coming to a temporary end.
The Ohio State Congress is deliberating a two-year budget that currently includes a freeze on college tuitions at public universities across the state while increasing state funding and offering graduation based incentives during the freeze.
While freezing tuition would seem initially a nightmare for universities already struggling financially, Neal McNally, vice president of finance and administration at Youngstown State University is confident that YSU will weather the freeze with little issue.
“We think overall in revenues we’ll be OK. Obviously, one of the keys to our budgetary health over the next two years will be to stabilize enrollment and grow enrollment, so we have students over the next two years paying tuition and fees and generating state subsidy for us,” McNally said.
While the university will temporarily be unable to raise tuition, McNally explained that the gap in funding will not come out of student pockets.
“Fees and tuition will generally be the same. There may be some adjustments to some course fees but I think most of that has been worked out,” McNally said. “For the most part, the vast majority of students will see little to no increase in what they’ve paid.”
Rather than sticking students with the remaining tuition costs, the state will offer more funding for colleges.
“We do have to give a lot of credit to the state legislature, particular the Ohio senate. They didn’t just arbitrarily freeze tuition and walk away. They froze tuition but also added additional funding to the state’s instruction formula,” he said.
Ohio state senator Joe Shiavone is currently among the legislatures discussing the proposed budget and the potential outcome of the freeze.
“I think the one part of the budget I’m actually excited about is the higher ed piece because not only does it include the tuition freeze in there, but the state has also invested more state dollars into higher ed so the universities can continue to grow and invest in their future programs and infrastructure,” Shiavone said. “I think president Tressel is happy with it, and I think it’s something we need to do more of, making sure we’re investing in higher education at the state level.”
While the budget deliberations continue on in Columbus, YSU’s Board of Trustees made a final decision for the 2015-2016 academic year on Wednesday.
With only one dissenting vote, the Board of Trustees voted — in accordance with the state’s intention — not to raise tuition.
The vote ensures that YSU students — regardless of the budget’s adoption by the state — would be protected from an unexpected tuition hike.