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OSU proposes 3% tuition hike

Officials at Ohio State University say they're pleased with a House bill that increases state funding for higher education. It's a variation of Governor Strickland's universities compact proposal that exchanges higher amounts of state support for reduced tuition increases. But the bill has yet to pass the scrutiny of the Senate and governor.

No one knows yet how much Ohio State's tuition will cost for the next academic year. OSU's Vice President for Business and Finance is recommending that the university website show a 3% percent increase along with a caveat that reads "preliminary and subject to change." Bill Shkurti says the 3% figure comes from the House's legislation.

"State support will increase 2% over the current year and tuition can increase 3% for the year coming up," Shkurti says. "Then for the following year state support will increase 10% and we expect tuition to be held at no increase for resident undergraduate students."

That would be historic, Shkurti says. In 2003, Ohio State increased tuition 19%. In 2004, tuition went up 17%. In 2005, 13 1/2%. The state would give the university a 2% increase next fiscal year, but would raise it to 10% in Fiscal Year 2009.

"What it is, is the lowest increase in tuition in 21 years and the highest increase in state funding in 23 years," Shkurti says. "So that's pretty historic the way we look at it."

The strong bipartisan support in the House is encouraging, Shkurti says. But Governor Strickland has not endorsed the plan. He says he'll have to study the entire budget proposal and figure out where the money will come from.

"They made some changes which I don't think are necessarily an improvement on what I was suggesting," says Gov. Strickland. "But [they are] changes that continue to reflect the need for the state to invest more in the higher education of our young people."

"The university's Shkurti says he wants assurances that the state will deliver the promised 10% in 2009.

"We want to get a better understanding with legislative leaders and the governor, what happens if the national economy tanks and then the state economy falls off and the state is not able to live up to its side of the bargain, and we've already promised students that their tuition is not going to be raised. Where does that leave us?"

Until then, Shkurti recommends that Ohio State's board of trustees delay action on tuition until the legislature's budget process is complete.