Ohio’s budget woes could cost students “A” quality education

Kent State professors worry that a change in state funding will lower educational standards for students.

“If all the faculty are given an incentive to lower their standards then some faculty are bound to do it,” said anthropology professor Rick Feinberg.

Under the old funding formula, Kent State received its State Share of Instruction from Ohio for every student enrolled in class. If a student is enrolled in five classes, he or she would be counted five times.

Now, the state will only recognize students who pass those classes with a D or higher. So if that student only passes three out of five classes, now he or she will only be counted three times. The more students who withdraw or fail, the less funding Kent State receives from the state.

Last year, 86.32 percent of students completed their courses, according to Regional Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. If this number holds, Kent State stands to lose 13.68 percent of its funding from the state, which would be approximately $13.1 million. The 2009 SSI funding amounted to $95.7 million.

“I know this is not something the university has control over,” said Feinberg. “I’m concerned about a formula that creates incentives for students who shouldn’t be passing to get through.”

Donald White, mathematical science professor, also shared his concern on how a high withdrawal or fail rate will affect the professors. He cited the late registration allowances at Kent as being a large part of the problem.

“Easily 80 percent of those who sign up after the first week of the semester are at risk,” White said.

At his address to Faculty Senate, Provost Robert G. Frank said concerns over Ohio’s budget looms larger than the changes to SSI funding.

“When the state changed the formula, they held back money and said they would pay it to us later,” Frank said. “And now, the question is, will they have all that money to give us what they actually promised?”

Approximately $5 million was withheld by the state from last year’s money. Frank said he hopes it will be paid out to Kent soon, and the fact that the funds have been delayed this long means that it’s possible the state is very worried about having enough money to meet all their obligations.

Frank said in a university that runs on approximately $500 million a year, a $5 million loss won’t be visible to most students at Kent. The concern in this economy is the stability of the state’s budget going forward.

“If the state has the troubles we think they are going to have next year,” said Frank. “It could be a lot more money than that, that we’re short, which students will definitely notice.”