UC, Cincinnati State partnering up to give students an affordable alternative

Ohio among 'least affordable' states for college

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State are entering a new partnership in hopes of making college more affordable.

The agreement, signed Friday, will cater to students who want to earn a two-year degree at Cincinnati State and smoothly transfer to UC for a four-year degree. UC's interim provost Peter Landgren said the agreement with help with big things (like transferring credits) and the little things (like parking on both campuses).

"Affordability is on the tongue of everyone. Not just UC administrators, but legislators and senators," Landgren said. "It's a common conversation."

Ohio ranks 45th of 50 states in college affordability according to a Vanderbilt University study, a major challenge given that leaders across many sectors of Ohio say the key to future success is building a more educated workforce.

Philanthropy Ohio spotlighted three key problems in a report and public event Thursday at the Statehouse, the Dayton Daily News reported.

First, Ohio allocates less of its state and federal expenditures toward higher education, with state appropriations per student about $1,900 below the national average.

Second, despite significant recent improvements, tuition at Ohio colleges is 11 percent higher than the national average for four-year public schools, and 14 percent higher for community colleges.

Last, state need-based financial aid is $123 million below pre-recession levels in Ohio, dramatically below all surrounding states. A new analysis from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities says need-based aid, averaged across all full-time students, is at $188 per student in Ohio, compared to $497 in Kentucky, $841 in Pennsylvania and $955 in Indiana.

“The combination of those three factors … puts higher education out of reach for much of Ohio’s population,” said Maggie McGrath, project director for the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland. “That has big implications for Ohio’s future.”

A study by Vanderbilt University professor Will Doyle and University of Pennsylvania researchers measured college affordability as tuition and required fees minus grant aid, in the context of median income.

“Affordability is not just what colleges charge. The basic finding here is that Ohio’s net prices are way out of line with what families can pay,” Doyle said. “On average, families are asked to pay 37 percent of their income every year for students to attend. That’s among the highest in the country. In the best performing states, it’s around 20 to 25 percent. That’s still high, but 37 percent is insanely high.”

Philanthropy Ohio said the state has taken some good steps – tuition caps, performance-based funding, and better K-12 preparation efforts – but called them “neither bold enough nor far-reaching enough to produce the large-scale outcomes our state needs.”

The Dayton Daily News is a media partner of WCPO - 9 On Your Side.

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