Statewide task force to look into Ohio universities’ tuition

Governor John Kasich celebrates his reelection with a roaring crowd at the Republican Parties watch party in Columbus on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Governor John Kasich celebrates his reelection with a roaring crowd at the Republican Parties watch party in Columbus on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Kate Schwanke

Kent State students may see tuition costs freeze by the 2016-2017 school year with a new task force overseeing costs at Ohio universities.

Governor John Kasich signed an executive order on Tuesday, Feb. 9 to create the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education.  With nine people selected between Kasich and the Ohio House and Senate, its mission is to find way to cut costs and colleges and universities while maintaining a high level of education for students. 

As chief financial officer of Ohio State University, Geoff Chatas was chosen by Kasich to chair the new committee.  Chatas said in an email interview that he is very honored to have been chosen to be the head of the task force. 

“I look forward to working with other college and university leaders to find innovative ways of supporting teaching, learning and research,” Chatas said. “By working together on affordability, we can make a real difference for students.” 

Kasich has proposed capping tuition increases at two percent in 2016 and freezing future increases starting in 2017. The two-year budget also proposed a $120 million fund to decrease student debt at two-year and four-year universities throughout Ohio.

The task force will come conclude their research on Oct. 1, 2015.

The Inter-University Council of Ohio CEO and President Bruce Johnson said they are willing to work with Kasich to help identify ways to make tuition increase as low as possible.

“While we work with the task force it probably won’t have an impact, but as the recommendations are implemented, you would expect there to be innovative cost-cutting ideas that would come forward,” Johnson said.

The council is in charge of representing 14 public universities around Ohio.

There is also concern about how universities will make up the extra funding if tuition costs are frozen in 2017. Johnson said the change will not be possible without support from the state government.

“People generally don’t realize that Ohio’s four-year universities have had the slowest rate in tuition growth in the country over the last 10 years,” Johnson said. “State support per student is about $1,500 below the national average.”

For Kent State, the outcome is unclear at the moment, as the task force is still creating ways to cut university costs while keeping sufficient education standards.

President Beverly Warren said the decision for Kent State will not be clear until June when the Ohio Senate and House have budget recommendations. 

“It’s too early to tell, but that’s what [Kasich] is recommending,” Warren said.

Contact Kate Schwanke at [email protected].