Keeping college costs down could be beneficial

Obtaining a college degree can be very costly – and price tags have followed an upward trend during the past several years. News of increases planned at eight of Ohio’s 14 public universities has prompted an organized protest by a student group.

Tuition increases have been proposed or approved at the Universities of Akron, Cincinnati and Toledo as well as at Ohio University, Youngstown State, Miami, Wright State and Shawnee State.

In dollar amounts, the increases do not seem exorbitant. For example, the University of Akron’s 2-percent tuition hike amounts to only a little more than $200 a year. Ohio University’s $150 increase is even less.

But what seems to have many students upset is that the increases are added to costs that can place the price tag of a bachelor’s degree at about what one might pay for a house.

And some public institutions in Ohio are substantially higher priced than others. Miami University’s tuition already is $13,266 a year for Buckeye State residents. That compares to $10,484 for Ohio?University ($4,970 at regional campuses such as O.U. Eastern) and $10,010 at Ohio State.

In comparison with surrounding states, many of the Ohio universities fit squarely in the mid-range of costs. Undergraduate tuition for in-state students ranges from lows of $5,496 at Kentucky State and $6,456 at West Virginia University to $12,908 at Michigan State and $16,090 at Penn State.

Again, however, the ever-increasing bottom line has many students and parents up in arms. Five years at the University of Akron – what it seems to take these days to earn a bachelor’s degree – can cost a total of $126,580, based on current tuition and living expenses.

No wonder the Ohio Student Association is planning rallies and “teach-ins” on some campuses, to protest tuition increases.

There is not much institutions of higher learning can do about some rising expenses. Food, utilities, etc., cost more for everyone these days.

Clearly, however, colleges and universities that can hold costs down will be more and more attractive. That is something higher education administrators should bear in mind.