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David Holman

Economic In-Tuition: Food for thought on college tuition

If your objective is to consume more for a better price, then congratulate yourself for becoming a Bobcat; it’s the most affordable school on a list.

Here’s the situation: you’re hungry. Restaurant A offers an a la carte menu featuring $6 burgers, $4 fries, and $4 dessert pies. Restaurant B boasts a $9 buffet that features burgers and fries, but dessert pies are not included; you have to pay an additional $4 for the pie. Restaurant C also operates buffet style, but their buffet includes burgers, fries and pie all bundled together for $11. So which restaurant do you choose? Well, it depends on how hungry you are. If you only want a burger, you go with Restaurant A for $6. Perhaps you want both a burger and fries, but no pie. In this scenario, Restaurant B for $9 is the least costly option. But if you want all three items, Restaurant C for $11 is the most cost-efficient route, as opposed to A’s and B’s $14 and $13 respective prices for the same amount of food.

Now let’s discuss college tuition. Nearly all public colleges charge semester tuition in one of two ways. The first method is to price tuition per credit hour the student is enrolled. The majority of Michigan’s public colleges utilize this system. Essentially, a student enrolled in 15 credit hours at this type of school is charged a lower price than a student enrolled in 16 credit hours.  Part-time students are familiar with this system as many colleges, including Ohio University, apply it to students enrolled in less than 12 credit hours.

The second method is to provide students a fixed tuition amount that covers a range of credit hours. All of Ohio’s 13 public university main campuses employ this system, but the ranges vary based on each university’s preference. For example, the range at Ohio is 12-20 credit hours while the range at Kent State University sits at 11-16 credit hours. When students surpass the maximum amount of credit hours allowed in the range, they are assessed an additional fee for each credit hour studied.

In rare cases, a school does not limit its students to a maximum number of credit hours. Of Ohio’s public higher-education institutions, Miami University is the only one to offer its students a credit hour surplus. Miami’s fixed tuition kicks in when a student enrolls in 12 credit hours, and it remains static regardless of the amount. The only stipulation is students must be granted permission to enroll in more than 20 credit hours.



Tuition Type

Per Hour Fee

12 HRS

15 HRS

18 HRS

20 HRS

Ferris St. (MI)

Per Credit Hour

$377.00 (1)





Kent St.




$5,006 (2)



Ohio U.




$5,268 (2)



Miami U.




$6,767 (2)



2014-15 Tuition per Semester

  1. Tuition varies based on course level (upper and lower). Tuition and fees reflect the mean of Ferris State’s in-state tuition with regard to level. Supplied by Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan 2014-15 Tuition Report
  2. 2014-15 in-state fixed tuition value supplied by Ohio Public Universities Admissions Council


By now you may be able to connect that Restaurant A represents Ferris State, B as Kent State, and C as Ohio. In terms of cost, like the restaurants, each college has its pros and cons. If you need more time out of class for work opportunities while in school, Ferris State is a more cost-efficient choice than the other schools, granted you are eligible for Michigan in-state tuition. If you adhere better to routines and want to take 15 credit hours every semester, Kent State is the best choice for your wallet. But if your goal is to attain a degree in the quickest fashion by consistently studying 18 credit hours or more each semester, then your least costly option based on 2014-15 tuition prices is Ohio.

Restaurants A, B, and C all offer burgers, fries, and pie, and as consumers know, one entity’s food items may taste superior to the others’. Colleges are no different, as quality can vary hugely from school to school. However, if your objective is to consume more for a better price, then congratulate yourself for becoming a Bobcat; it’s the most affordable school on this list.

*Note Semester tuition for current in-state Ohio University students under the 2% tuition increase plan will rise to an estimated $5,373.36. Under the 5.1% raise for new and non-returning students, incoming freshmen are expected to pay $5,536.67.

David Holman is a junior studying screenwriting and producing at Ohio University and a research assistant at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Columns will be written by a different CCAP student from Ohio University each week. Email David at

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