Taft’s budget offers more money fortwo-year schools

Ryan Loew

While the future of higher education funding is still in the works in Columbus, most four-year universities in Ohio are slated to get less money during the next two years under Gov. Taft’s budget proposal.

And because the number of students enrolling in community colleges has increased, two-year schools will most likely get more money.

“Since the enrollments at two-year institutions are up, they’re benefiting from that shift,” said Administration Vice President David Creamer.

Those enrollment growths translate into more money from the state, Creamer said, while enrollment at four-year schools, including Kent State, has leveled off.

“Most of the estimates right now show us getting roughly the same amount in the first year and a decline in the second year,” Creamer said. That decline, he said, would equal about $1.3 million.

Four-year universities such as Miami, Bowling Green and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine will take the biggest hits, reported the Associated Press, and overall, nine of the 13 four-year universities will see less.

Eleven out of Ohio’s 15 two-year schools will likely receive more allocated money next year, with Owens, Cuyahoga Community and Clark State community colleges seeing the most.

While this is causing some to criticize Taft’s budget as unfairly forcing schools to compete for the same money, Creamer said that misses the point.

“They’re debating the wrong question,” he said. “Our problem is that the amount being appropriated is not adequate to cover increasing enrollment or the increasing cost of delivering our instructional programs. The debate should be about the adequacy of the amount appropriated, not splitting up an inadequate amount.”

Deirdre Delaney, vice president for Business Operations at Sinclair Community College, said despite the statewide trend, enrollment at her two-year school in Dayton has fallen below expectations.

“So what will happen this year is we will receive less funding because we have grown less than our projected rate,” Delaney said. “Even in our sector, there’s shifting.

“The pie’s not big enough, and it’s not about how it’s divided up. It’s just not big enough. The bigger issue is how can we sell to the legislators what the return on investment is.”

Some community college leaders have argued that although they may be slated for more money, they are not benefiting more than universities, the AP reported.

“Yes, you get an increase in your state support for instruction, as do all colleges when they grow,” said John O’Donnell, president of Stark State College of Technology in North Canton, “but also your expense end goes up dramatically.”

The governor’s budget proposal is currently making its way through the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate and will be signed into law by Taft most likely in June.

“It’s still early,” Creamer said. “It’s still difficult to know what this is going to look like.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].