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Published: 4/25/2011

Rising college costs

A new poll of young Americans affirms the belief that higher education is key to finding scarce jobs in a depressed economy. But instead of encouraging high school graduates to attend Ohio's public colleges and universities, many of these institutions and state government are on a path to price them out.

As. Gov. John Kasich seeks to slash state aid to higher education, public colleges and universities are looking to make an end run around the 3.5 percent cap on annual tuition increases that the governor proposes. Kent State University is renewing a request to charge students additional fees to underwrite construction projects.

Former Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut rejected that plan, rightly worrying that other universities would try to pay for capital projects in a similar manner. But his successor, Jim Petro, says he will present the Kent State proposal to the state Controlling Board for its approval.

The university wants to impose a fee of $7 per credit hour starting in 2013. By 2017, the fee would rise to $24 per credit hour, or $720 a year for full-time, in-state students. Kent State would use fee revenue to pay off $210 million in bonds that are funding a new academic building and other renovations.

Like other Ohio universities, Kent State is considering a tuition hike this fall. To cope with an average 13 percent cut in state aid, some universities want to circumvent Mr. Kasich's proposed two-year tuition ceiling by seeking increases of more than 3.5 percent in the first year.

Such moves are understandable. But a new Associated Press-Viacom poll of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 concludes that three-fourths of the young adults in the survey who bypassed higher education cited cost as a reason.

Balancing the state budget on the backs of hard-pressed students is likely to swell the ranks of Ohioans who are shut out of education and economic opportunity.



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