Friday, January 10, 2020

In 2002, 75% of Ohioans said college should cost $5,000 a year. For Fall 2019, 5 cost less than $5,000 ... A SEMESTER!

One of the highlights of my journalism career was a series of stories I wrote at the Akron Beacon Journal with colleagues Doug Oplinger and Dennis Willard during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign. It was the first real examination of how Ohio's rankings on various quality of life issues had changed since 1960. And we found that we had become poorer, less healthy and less educated compared with how we stacked up with other states in 1960.

One of the hallmarks of the series (called "Ohio: Look at the State We're In") was a poll the Akron Beacon Journal commissioned from Zogby that asked Ohioans where they thought we ranked on these data points and also where they thought we should head from a policy perspective.

One of those questions was about college tuition. Here's the result from the Day 3 story (which I was the lead writer on):

"According to a poll done by Zogby International for the Akron Beacon Journal, nearly 75 percent of Ohioans felt tuition at a public university should be less than $5,000. Almost 40 percent want the ceiling at $2,500." 
So I decided to look at the Fall 2019 tuition at Ohio's public colleges and universities. Only five four-year schools had tuition below $5,000 ... per semester!

Not a single Ohio four-year college or regional campus cost less than $5,000 a year.

Even adjusted for inflation, that $5,000 in 2002 ($7,619, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator) was more than all Ohio public four-year tuition at every public university except Central State.

As a state, we began to turn the corner on Higher Education investment during the 2019 budget, which I commended the state for doing. But wow do we have a ways to go before we can meet that modest expectation of Ohioans from 18 years ago. A ways to go indeed.

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