COLUMBUS — Students across Ohio are protesting recent tuition increases enacted or proposed at eight of the state’s 14 public universities.
Some of those who are upset by rising costs have joined the Ohio Student Association to organize “teach-ins” and rallies on campuses, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
The University of Akron became the latest institution to approve an increase when it raised tuition by 2 percent last week. The University of Cincinnati, Youngstown State and Shawnee State also have approved hikes.
The newspaper reports four other schools have proposed increases: Miami, Wright State and Ohio universities and the University of Toledo.
One student protester says some of her friends work full-time and can barely make ends meet.
“It’s unreasonable, if you ask me,” said Asia McRae, 22, a junior studying anthropology at Akron and a member of the student association. “I have friends who work 35 to 40 hours a week and are barely making do after you take into consideration living expense and tuition costs.”
Universities say drops in enrollment and cuts in state aid make the increases necessary.
Enrollment at Youngstown State has decreased about 12 percent over the past three years, leading to $12 million in lost revenue. Over the same period, state funding for the university fell almost $9 million.
At Akron, the university is cutting programs and increasing meal and housing prices in addition to raising tuition in order to close a $15 million deficit
State-funded colleges can’t raise tuition by more than 2 percent, or $188 a year, whichever is higher, under limits state lawmakers set last year. Several, including Ohio State, have yet to recommend new tuition rates. They expect to make those determinations by the end of June.
Ohio University’s request is on the low end, costing undergraduates $150 more, the newspaper reports.
Miami’s proposed increase is the costliest, but administrators say it will be funneled back into bringing student costs down overall. Administrators there have recommended a 2-percent increase that would add $265 a year to tuition for undergraduate, in-state students. All of the increase would go into scholarships.
“We continue to try to deal with income barriers for some students,” said David Creamer, the university’s treasurer and vice president of finance and business services. “Our students don’t all come from similar families.”