Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post
Roderick McDavis, Ohio University President (AUSTIN JANNING | FOR THE POST)

Letter: A college degree is important, and OU is working to make it more affordable

Earning a college degree continues to provide a sound, high-value investment. A typical college graduate earns nearly $1 million more than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime. College graduates are less likely to be unemployed, and more likely to vote and volunteer in their communities. They also live an average of seven years longer than those with a high school diploma or less.

Despite these attractive benefits, too few Ohioans are earning the college degrees or other postsecondary education credentials that employers require for the majority of jobs of today and tomorrow.

Meeting the imperative to increase education attainment levels in our state led to a formal Ohio Attainment Goal for 2025: By 2025, 65 percent of working-age adults in Ohio will have a postsecondary degree, certificate or other credential of value in the marketplace.

Achieving that goal will require Ohio to produce 1.7 million additional adults with postsecondary credentials. At the current rate, only 43 percent of working-age Ohioans will attain the needed degree, certificate or credential.

The state’s public universities are adopting measures to reduce student debt while increasing degree completion and better connecting degree holders to successful careers. Ohio’s public universities are national leaders in containing college costs with five-year tuition growth well below the national average. Key initiatives include:

Efficiency Reviews

Each university has conducted an efficiency review and implementation plan based on the report and recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education Affordability and Efficiency.

- In June 2014, Ohio University’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that allowed OHIO leadership to move forward on implementing its Energy Infrastructure Projects Initiative. This initiative outlined numerous goals for the Athens Campus, including focusing on improved energy consumption, increasing energy reliability and flexibility and further compliance with established energy regulations.

- Ohio University accomplished one of its key Energy Infrastructure Projects Initiatives, to stop burning coal by the end of 2015, when the school officially transitioned to natural gas heat last November on the Athens Campus. Thus far, the switch has produced a 12 percent increase in efficiency.

Senate 5 Percent Cost Reduction Challenge

Each university has developed a plan to provide all in-state undergraduate students the opportunity to reduce the cost of earning a degree by 5 percent.

- Ohio University’s Class of 2019 is the first to experience The OHIO Guarantee, a cohort based, level-rate tuition, housing, dining and fee model that assures students and their families a set of comprehensive rates for the pursuit of an undergraduate degree at Ohio University.

- Financial aid packages hold their value under The OHIO Guarantee, and, because the cost of attending Ohio University will remain flat for each cohort, the same percentage of these costs will be met by any renewable scholarship, assuming that scholarship criteria are maintained.

College Completion Plans

Each university in Ohio has developed a completion plan that outlines specific completion goals and strategies for increasing the number of students earning postsecondary education credentials, particularly those needed for high-demand, living–wage occupations.

- Academic excellence and student success are at the core of Ohio University’s educational mission. The Allen Center, part of OHIO’s University College, houses the Allen Student Advising Center and Undergraduate Orientation Programs. The Center’s sole mission is to promote undergraduate student success and retention.

- 90 percent of OHIO’s first-year students are part of on-campus learning communities that focus on connecting and supporting students during their transition from home and high school to Ohio University.

These initiatives are already yielding results. For example, the number of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded by Ohio’s public universities and community colleges increased by 20.1 percent between 2010 and 2015. Degree attainment is increasing even as state funding in Ohio has lagged other states, and need-based financial aid has yet to return to pre-recession levels. While state funding has increased 7.1 percent since 2014, Ohio’s funding per student is 27 percent below the national average.

To build our future, Ohio also must address an “innovation gap.” Ohio’s public universities are ramping up research & development, technology transfer and commercialization activities to fill the funding shortfall caused by reduced federal and private investment in basic and applied research, new product development and business creation. The state of Ohio needs to enhance efforts to ensure we remain a center for private and federal investment.

At a time when Ohio’s public universities play such an important role, the effects of the Great Recession have significantly impacted support for our universities. Continued progress on raising education attainment levels, creating economic opportunity and driving economic development will require a continued partnership with state officials to enhance investment in and support for higher education. The pay-off will be a brighter, more prosperous future for Ohio. 

Dr. Roderick McDavis is the president of Ohio University.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2023 The Post, Athens OH