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Tuition Thaw

February 2, 2022

OU yet to decide tuition increases after COVID-19 freeze

By Addie Hedges | For The Post

Ohio University froze all tuition increases due to the onset of COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 academic year and refrained from increasing tuition at the percentage allowed by the state of Ohio during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Each year, the state of Ohio decides the maximum percentage increase of tuition public universities can implement. That percentage is separate from inflation increases, which universities also use to determine the cost of tuition.

Prior to COVID-19, OU charged tuition increases matching the amount allowed by the state of Ohio, John Day, OU’s budget director, said. However, recognizing the effect the coronavirus pandemic had on many individuals, the OU Board of Trustees agreed to opt out of implementing the 3.5% increase in tuition the state of Ohio allowed.

“For the 2020-21 academic year, our increase was 0% because of concerns with the impact COVID was having on the economy,” Day said in an email. “We were the only public university in Ohio to do 0% - others mostly took the full 3.5% allowed.”

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, OU decided to continue increasing tuition, but only by an amount that would cover the costs of inflation. For the 2021-2022 academic year, tuition increased at the rate of inflation, which was 1.8% or roughly $112 per semester.

If OU would have opted to increase tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year at the maximum percentage allowed by the state, which was 2%, the increase would have been 3.8% with inflation costs, costing students nearly $237 more per semester.

The current cost of tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year is set at $12,840 for Ohio residents, before individual scholarships or financial aid. This price does not include the cost of room and board or university meal plans. A standard double room and Traditional 14 meal plan, which allows students 14 meals a week in any residential dining courts, would bring the total cost up to an estimated $24,702 per year. The percentage allowed next year by the state is 4.6%, which, if implemented, will cost new students about $290 more per semester than students who enrolled for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Board has yet to decide what percentage they will adopt for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Year-to-year increases only affect students enrolling as first-year students. Other students have the option of paying a predetermined tuition rate when they enroll at OU with the OHIO Guarantee+ program, which protects students from tuition increases for 12 consecutive semesters, or four years.

“The Guarantee rate cannot be extended beyond those 12 semesters, regardless of whether a student has taken classes in all of them,” Candace Boeninger, vice president for enrollment, said in an email. “Exceptions are available for students in majors that are known to take longer than 128 hours to graduate, or for students with extenuating circumstances, such as military deployment.”

Enrollment increased during the first two years after the OHIO Guarantee+ was implemented but has steadily decreased since the 2016-2017 academic year. The 2020-2021 academic year’s enrollment was the lowest it had been in nearly 10 years.

Students and their families considering enrolling at OU have responded well to the program, Boeninger said. But although the Guarantee+ program has gained the approval of some students, others said it did not influence their decision to attend OU in any significant way. Emma Graham, a senior studying wildlife conservation, felt it was an added bonus but not a key component in the decision to enroll.

“I don't think it was influential, but I definitely appreciated (it),” Graham said. “I feel like it was helpful. I knew I was going to OU, so it wasn't really a (determining factor).”

As tuition rates continue to increase, Graham said the Guarantee+ program is an influence to complete college in the allotted time to avoid paying a higher tuition rate, should it exceed the 12-semester limit.

“I would definitely try to get it done (within 12 semesters),” Graham said. “(I would) maybe take a gap year or two to make the money to pay for it if the Guarantee wasn't still being applied.”

Being able to have a set tuition rate keeps things clear for those who have to take out student loans, Mallory Majoy, a freshman psychology major, said. Not needing to guess what her loans will and won’t cover gives her peace of mind, Majoy said.

Next year’s tuition rate will be decided during the OU Board of Trustees Biennial Budget meeting in March or June.

AUTHOR: Addie Hedges
EDITOR: Emma Skidmore
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai