Taft proposes 6 percent tuition cap in address

University presidents meet to consolidate their ideas for the governor

COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft proposed an annual tuition cap of 6 percent for state universities at the State of the State address yesterday.

The cap means universities cannot raise tuition by more than 6 percent, keeping the cost of tuition down for students but putting more pressure on universities. Universities will now need to look for ways to raise money or cut costs.

“We expected them (caps), and we can work within that,” Kent State President Carol Cartwright said. “We believe that we can be responsive without caps but understand what’s worrying students and families as far as affordability.”

Taft urged universities to work with the caps by “becoming more productive and more collaborative.”

Cartwright said there is an “excellent track record of that,” citing communication and cooperation among university presidents over the last decade or so.

Before the speech

One way university presidents communicate is through monthly meetings of the Inter-University Council, an organization of Ohio’s state schools such as Kent State, Ohio University and the University of Akron. The council met yesterday before Taft’s speech to anticipate his proposals and develop a unified message for Ohio legislators.

“We’re on board,” Cartwright said. “The presidents are going to agree on a message and stick to it. It’s not just a Kent State message.”

The council, Cartwright said, is interested in creating a “good climate in Ohio for business development,” tax reform and developing quality programs for students in kindergarten through college.

“These are the basic ingredients of a prosperous state,” she said.

The council will be attending formal testimonies with Ohio House committee members in a week to 10 days, Cartwright said, and council members will present ideas about Taft’s budget proposal.

But promoting higher education to Ohio legislators is an ongoing process, she said.


State Rep. Kathleen Chandler said she was pleased with the four parts of Taft’s speech, including his remarks on higher education.

“I’m not sure it is enough, but it is certainly a step in the right direction,” Chandler said.

She said she agreed with Taft that better prepartion of students for college is essential.

State Sen. Kimberly A. Zurz said she didn’t think Taft’s proposals were enough. The perceptions of the ideas presented in the address are much different than the reality.

“While we are holding that (tuition) cap at 6 percent, is that every year?” Zurz questioned.

That would be 24 percent over four years of college, she said.

The cap was previously set at 9.5 percent.

Zurz said she is worried about students finding jobs after graduation and paying off college debt, calling the cost of tuition an “insurmountable mountain” for many families.

Education “should be our top priority,” she said, though she saw no real plan for higher education or education in general.

Contact public affairs reporter Lindsay Wargo at [email protected]. Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].