courtyard fountain

Photo by Carissa Woytach
Cleveland State students often congregate near the fountain at the Student Center courtyard.

September 14, 2015

Tuition freeze extended for 2015-16 year

By Abbey White

A significant portion of Cleveland State University’s student body will dodge a tuition increase for the 2015-2016 school year.

The university’s Board of Trustees voted Friday, July 10, to extend a tuition freeze to both its out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students in the Marshall College of Law. Previously, the hold was restricted to in-state undergraduates only.

The decision follows Governor John Kasich’s approval of Ohio’s budget for the next two fiscal years. The governor signed the congressionally backed plan into action on June 30.

Part of the budget tackles the growing price tag on higher education by prohibiting public colleges and universities from increasing tuition rates for Ohio residents.

“The governor was especially concerned over the substantial rise in outstanding student loan debt which stands at over $1 trillion nationally,” Tim Long, associate vice president of finance and budget at Cleveland State, said.

The Board of Trustees’ choice to expand the freeze to nearly all of Cleveland State’s students goes above and beyond the state’s directive. While every public post-secondary institution in Ohio is required to comply, many universities stuck to the bare minimum or simply extended freezes that were already in place.

Kent State contemplated raising tuition costs for out-of-state and graduate students to offset costs. Meanwhile, the University of Akron was monitored by the Ohio Board of Regents for proposing a new fee for upper level coursework that could tack on an additional $600 to the cost of attendance for juniors and seniors.

Out-of-state undergraduates make up about 12 percent of the student body, while graduates constitute around 30 percent. As a result of the board’s extension, the cost to attend will be kept at a reasonable rate for nearly all Cleveland State students.

“It is very important for the university to do what it can to keep tuition affordable. This will assist in retaining our existing students and help in their attaining a degree, as well as attracting new enrollment,” Long said.

Continuing to keep Cleveland State’s programs and facilities as accessible as possible is something Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman stressed during the board’s meeting in July.

“Maintaining affordability is a top priority for CSU,” Berkman said. “We are appreciative of the extra support we have received from the state, and we will continue to diligently manage our budget.”

The tuition freeze coincides with a modification of the university’s tuition credit-hour ban. Last year students were allowed to enroll in up to 17 credit hours without being charged for more than the base cost for full-time status. The minimum number of credits required to achieve full-time enrollment at Cleveland State is 12.

Cleveland State’s trustees voted to increase that ban to 18 — the number it had been prior to last year’s “Big Switch” initiatives.

The university’s choice to reduce the credit ban and convert many of its courses from three to four credit hours received pushback from some students, especially those at or near the end of their degree programs. While the switch was aimed at streamlining the process for all enrollees, it appeared to most benefit incoming freshman.

With the Board of Trustees’ recent decision and an increase in-state funding for the next two years, not only has the school balanced its $290 million budget, but successfully avoided breaking students’ banks.

“President Berkman and the university administration felt strongly that it needed to take an action that directly assisted all students in affording the cost of all the degree programs the university offers,” Long said. “The Board agreed with the President’s recommendation and passed [the] resolution.”

 

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